Nutreco takes stake in Indian smart shrimp feeding start-up

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock
© istock
Dutch feed group, Nutreco, has taken a 25% share in Eruvaka, an India-based Internet of Things (IoT) company that develops connected devices and mobile-based decision tools aimed at helping shrimp farmers increase productivity.

Eruvaka was founded in 2012 by Indian entrepreneur Sreeram Raavi.

The company’s products are said to allow farmers to actively monitor pond parameters and remotely control automated equipment to increase feed efficiency, shrimp growth and, ultimately, farm profitability. The technology can enable shrimp producers remotely ensure accurate dosages of the right feed when their stock requires it, thereby avoiding over- or under-feeding.

Nutreco has also entered into a commercial partnership with the Indian company to help scale it globally, and it will be represented on the Eruvaka board by its chief innovation officer, Viggo Halseth. 

"We’ll first focus on Latin America to prove the technology has scale. Latin America tends to have large ponds and low density so there’s a big need there right now for a solution like this,"​ Halseth told us. 

When asked why Nutreco had invested in this particular technology given that there are other start-ups with similar tools, he said: "There are a lot of synergies to be found between our two companies, including the potential to integrate Eruvaka’s specific technology into AquaSim, Skretting's current suite of customized performance tools."

The hope is the technology will help the Dutch group further build scale across Latin America and Asia.

Other significant shareholders in Eruvaka include Omnivore, an impact venture fund that invests in Indian start-ups developing breakthrough technologies for food, agriculture and the rural economy. It introduced Nutreco to Eruvaka. "We have relationships with a number of venture capital companies,"​ said Halseth. 

Whether the Dutch group will look to increase its stake in Eruvaka in the coming years, he said that will very much depend on the results Nutreco gets from this initial cooperation.

Last November saw Nutreco invest in another aquaculture related concept, Aquantum Leap – it took a 40% share in Seafarming Systems’ closed farms operation aimed at increasing the production of salmon in Norwegian fjords.

When asked whether the Dutch animal nutrition and fish feed player is primarily focused on fish farming when it comes to capital investments, Halseth said: "We look at companies on a case-by-case basis; these two just happen to be in aquaculture. Overall, we look at solutions that will increase sustainability and productivity in farming in general."

Skretting, Nutreco's aqua feed division, is currently building a new fish feed production facility in Ecuador. The company said the plant, which will have an annual capacity of 470,000 tons, will be completed by 2019.

Incubator finalists

Meanwhile, one of the start-ups in the 10 finalists selected for this year’s Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge is aimed at optimizing salmon production. Blue Lice’s patent-pending system is said to prevent sea lice from affecting salmon farming, saving costs and reducing the need for treatments. Blue Lice looks to attract, capture and contain sea lice before it is infects the fish.  

The Challenge, in its second year, is designed to kick-start breakthrough innovation in animal nutrition.

Cytophage Technologies is another finalist. Its non-antibiotic chicken feed additive is said to prevent and treats Campylobacter,Salmonella​ and E. coli​ bacterial infections in chickens. The company produces a synthetic bacteriophage cocktail.

Folium Science is also one of the front-runners for the prize. It has developed a biome modulator said to remove unwanted bacteria, while supporting the colonies that should be maintained, without the use of antibiotics, so reducing the risk of AMR. Biome modulators can be delivered through the water or encapsulated in feed systems in the rearing house.

The Arbiom consortium​ is also among the finalists. It is looking to develop a high-protein yeast product with proprietary bioprocessing technology that converts wood into highly fermentable hydrolysates that serve as growth medium for single cell protein (SCP) for use in feed.

Nutreco said the 10 finalists were chosen out of a list of 52 entries on the basis that they seemed the most promising ways of addressing antimicrobial resistance, feed-to-farm efficiency and young animal nutrition.

The companies will pitch to an international jury at an event in the Netherlands on May 28 and 29, with the top three going on to present at F&A Next the following day. The winner will receive a validation trial in one of Nutreco's research farms. F&A ​ ​was developed by Rabobank, Anterra Capital, Wageningen University & Research as a way to connect innovative food and agriculture start-ups with investors and corporates.

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