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Benchmark gains more than it loses from ban on Norwegian ova

Going into ova-drive: StofnFiskur has profited from the ban on the import of Norwegian salmon eggs to Scotland.
Going into ova-drive: StofnFiskur has profited from the ban on the import of Norwegian salmon eggs to Scotland.

Salmon egg supplier Benchmark Genetics has been a net winner following an ongoing ban imposed on the import of ova from Norway to Scotland last summer.

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The ban, which is linked to certification to show that eggs come from areas free from infectious salmon anaemia (ISA), means Benchmark’s Norwegian egg producer, SalmoBreed, has lost its UK sales.

But the company’s Icelandic ova producer, StofnFiskur, has cashed in by filling some of the gap left by SalmoBreed and other Norwegian suppliers.

Increased market share

“The additional demand and supplies from Iceland have led to an increased market share for Benchmark Genetics in the UK, so this is net positive for Benchmark in terms of sales volumes and returns,” said a company spokesperson.

Benchmark reported last week that its Genetics division made adjusted EBITDA of £3.5 million in the first quarter of its 2020 financial year, a 9% increase on the same period the previous year.

Like SalmonBreed, Norwegian egg supplier AquaGen has been unable to export to the UK but was already planning production in Scotland prior to the embargo. It bought a freshwater hatchery at Holywood, near Dumfries, from Scottish Sea Farms a year ago and intends to produce 50 million ova a year once it has completed upgrading work.

No impact on volume

In the fourth quarter of 2019 Scotland’s salmon farmers imported 17 million ova, compared to 23 million in Q4 2018.

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) said farmers were able to source ova from an increased domestic supply, and from Northern Ireland and Iceland, and that there was currently no shortage of eggs.

“It has not impacted on the volume of fish this year,” said an SSPO spokesperson.

The Scottish Salmon Company already sources eggs for its Native Hedridean strain from Hendrix Genetics company Landcatch, based at Ormsary, Lochgilphead, and Loch Duart has its own broodstock.

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