Revenue increased and loss was reduced for Benchmark in 2023 financial year
Aquaculture biotechnology company Benchmark Holdings reported improved revenues of £169.5 million for its 2023 financial year, which ended on September 30. Revenues were 7% more than in FY 2022.
Adjusted EBIDTA (excluding fair value adjustments) was £35.6m, up 15%, and adjusted operating profit (ex fair value) was £14.7m, up 61%.
The company’s overall loss was £16.1m, reduced from a loss of £28.7m in 2022.
“We delivered growth in turnover and adjusted EBITDA. We demonstrated strength in a demanding shrimp market and the ability to exploit opportunities and strengthen our investment in genetics and fish health,” said chief executive Trond Williksen.
“We have put another good year behind us and can state that the reorganisation back in 2020 was a watershed for Benchmark. Since then, the company’s turnover has increased by 60% and EBITDA by as much as 145%.”
335 million salmon eggs
Benchmark has three business areas: Genetics, Health, and Animal Nutrition. Genetics is a major supplier of eyed eggs for salmon farmers, and Health supplies the lice medicines Ectosan Vet, currently only used in Norway, and Salmosan Vet.
“Our customers are very concerned about fish health and animal welfare. These are important drivers for our business area Genetics, which produces salmon roe with genes that make the fish robust against disease, and for our business in fish health (Health), which, among other things, provides gentle treatment of salmon lice,” said Williksen.
The Genetics business area increased its turnover in 2023 by 20% compared to the previous year. In total, Benchmark delivered 335 million salmon ova from facilities in Norway, Iceland and Chile. This is an increase of 15% from last year and a new record.
Increased Ectosan Vet demand
In the Health business area, activity picked up as usual towards the end of the fourth quarter (July-September). For the year as a whole, turnover increased by 29% compared to the previous year due to increased demand from small and large farmers along the Norwegian coast for Ectosan Vet and its associated filtration system CleanTreat, and increased use of Salmosan Vet.
The Advanced Nutrition business area supplies specialised nutrition for fry in shrimp farming and marine farmed fish. The shrimp market has been weak throughout most of the year. This has resulted in lower sales of shrimp feed and a reduction in income of 7% compared to the previous year. Despite this and as a result of good operations and effective cost control, the business area delivers good results.
Strategic moves and innovation
Throughout the year, Benchmark made several adaptations of the business. In Q4, the businesses aimed at the shrimp market within Advanced Nutrition and Genetics were brought together under one management. Similar measures were also taken earlier in the year for the businesses aimed at the salmon sector, where the work on salmon genetics and fish health has been brought together under one management. The business related to the breeding of tilapia was disposed of, while the investment in genetics for this species is continued.
“We have also recently launched a new technology, SnappArt, which helps to increase the precision when feeding artemia and other live food. SnappArt is powered by artificial intelligence and allows customers to count and control the quality of each artemia,” said Williksen.
Lower Q4 results
For the period July-September 2023, which is the fourth quarter of the financial year, activity in Genetics and Advanced Nutrition was lower than in the same period last year. The level of activity in Health was temporarily significantly lower in the fourth quarter, and characterised by a seasonal shift in lice treatment in Norway.
Total turnover in the fourth quarter was £36.6m, a decrease of approximately 7% from the previous year. Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter was £7.4m, down 21% from the previous year.
“The financial year 2024 has started well, and we see positive development in all three business areas. Benchmark has a unique position in an industry characterised by growth driven by attractive megatrends,” said Williksen.
“Quality-conscious consumers are increasingly demanding sustainably produced seafood. Our role is to develop and deliver specialised solutions that ensure sustainable growth through increased efficiency, better fish health and fish welfare.”