Under the distribution agreement, ASP will supply, initially, an estimated 500 tons of ocean farmed tilapia annually to be distributed to high-end U.S. retailers and gourmet chefs, starting as early as next year and by the end of the first project phase, 6,000 tons. All product will consist of sustainably farm-raised red tilapia, grown in open-ocean and eco-friendly production systems, located in pristine waters off the Pacific coast of the Republic of Panama. The produce will be offered only fresh, whole and filleted.
Aquasense is an early stage aquaculture company with the mission to contribute to meeting the rising food needs of a growing world population in a sustainable manner. In 2007, it set out to change the paradigm of fish farming, by bringing their fish farming operations to the ultra-clean waters surrounding Panama. Considered a non-traditional farming method for tilapia, their preliminary research showed that when tilapia are reared in the full salinity of the open ocean and fed nutritious feeds, the result is a very much improved fish product, in terms of taste and texture.
The U.S. imports 85% of its seafood, with 50% being produced by aquaculture operations outside of the country, valued at some $8.0 billion in 2012, with farm-raised tilapia in the top-10 most consumed varieties. U.S. tilapia imports from all countries, for 2012, amounted to $1.0 billion. The fresh tilapia fillet market is dominated by Latin American producers (Ecuador, Honduras and Costa Rica) due to the proximity of the U.S. market, which substantially reduces shipment time and costs. Because of continuous strong demand, production has increased and new players have entered the market, like Colombia, whose exports to the U.S. have dramatically increased due to the ratification of a free trade agreement with the U.S. In the frozen tilapia market segment, China remains the undisputed leader.
According to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization the future demand for seafood will have to come from fish farms given the state of the world’s fisheries. If current population growth and consumption trends continue, an additional 40 million tons of seafood will be required by the year 2030. The only viable solution is aquaculture.