Andreassen answers Atkinson: “Will further increase the strategic lead we have built up”

Johan E. Andreassen, CEO of Atlantic Sapphire, fends off the attack.

Yesterday Steve Atkinson, founder of Taste of BC Aquafarms, North America’s oldest salmon RAS, launched an attack at competitor Atlantic Sapphire. Atkinson said “investors in some of the current projects which are now facing troubles are facing a similar reality that the tech industry faced in its early days. Enthusiasm was stirred by lofty pronouncements and big dreams that simply so far are not panning out.”

“Just looking at the financial statement of the Miami project obvious shortcomings become clear. It is not an industry problem, rather it is a company problem,” Atkinson reflected.

He said “a common mistake business make, large or small, is trying to run before they learn to walk. Here we see a company that has overhead the size of their dream, not the size of their operation. The financial statement shows 187 people on the payroll. A search of LinkedIn shows some 90 people in the organization with the title “manager.” Operating losses in the last six months are more than five times revenue. The prototype or proof of concept, in Denmark, has simply not yet figured out the technological uncertainties of growing salmon in their system, yet the operation is already in it’s second phase of commercial rollout. Is there any wonder investors are getting antsy?”

Atlantic Sapphire boss Johan E. Andreassen rejected Atkinson’s criticism.

“We have no desire to comment on the type of unreasonable allegations directly, where the source has not delved into Atlantic Sapphire’s business model or ten-year history. We also do not comment on our competitors directly, but rather focus on ourselves. So here are some general comments about Atlantic Sapphire, which we believe belong in a factual discussion about land-based salmon farming:

As the market is well aware, we have had additional costs related to delays in construction and completion of our phase 1 plant in the USA. In the US facility, we have thus not been able to give the fish the right conditions it needs, so that we can produce volumes as planned, and thus make money. These challenges have now been remedied.”

LOX trucks outside of Atlantic Sapphire’s facility in Miami. Photo: AS

“We have now completed a long investment and development period of phase 1, and are close to full, commercial production. As our investors and everyone who follows us know, large investments are required to be able to deliver profitable production of salmon on land. This takes time, which is why Atlantic Sapphire has many years of lead over potential competitors. That said, we do not see it as a direct competition, as there is more than enough room for all of the salmon production that the industry can manage to come up with over the next few years,” Andreassen continued.

“Atlantic Sapphire has a ten-year history, where we have run land-based RAS since 2011. This gave us in 2017 proof of concept to finance and start the first development in the US. Similarly, our history has given the company’s owners confidence to start the phase 2 development, which will further increase the strategic lead we have built up.”

“We have shown over time that we are able to produce a high quality product, which tastes so good that our customers are willing to pay a considerable price premium. Over the past year, we have been able to verify the actual costs of operating our plant in the USA. If we adjust the extraordinary costs associated with phase 1 construction issues, we see that our plant in full production will deliver a cost that is competitive with conventional farming, as we have always believed. We currently operate 14 saltwater RAS systems with a total capacity of approximately 12,000 tonnes of HOG, which gives us valuable experience every day. As far as we know, the second largest land-based producer in the world has a production of about 1,000 tonnes a year, by comparison,” he pointed out.

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