A brand new, high-tech aquaculture feed production facility could be operating in Blenheim by 2015.
Fish feed company Big Nutrition and Blenheim firm Aquaculture Direct have completed a feasibility study on establishing an aquatic feed mill in Marlborough, and determined the project viable.
Local aquaculture consultant Bruce Cardwell says the first hurdle has been passed. He says savings in transport costs, operating costs and access to domestic raw ingredients all helped to make the venture feasible. The project will proceed and is now in the second phase of development.
Once complete, the mill will be the newest and most advanced aquatic feed plant in the South Pacific, and the only one in New Zealand. It will supply feed for King salmon as well as other marine species such as Hapuka and Kingfish.
Product may also be produced for export markets throughout Asia Pacific from Blenheim. World demand for seafood continues to drive strong growth in aquaculture, resulting in demand for high quality feed inputs. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation figures show aquatic feed milling is growing at 8% per annum.
The innovative new facility will have the latest processing technology and eco-friendly power. It is estimated around 20 people will be needed to run the operation which will have an output capacity of over 70 000 tons per annum, and room to expand on its 2 ha site at the Riverlands Estate.
Most of the raw ingredients will be sourced locally and within New Zealand with the remainder from Australia and South America, giving the product a 'made in New Zealand' advantage.