JBS enters Australia’s aquaculture market with acquisition of salmon farmer Huon for US$313m

AUSTRALIA – World’s largest processor of fresh beef and pork, JBS is expanding its presence in the Australian animal protein market with the acquisition of salmon producer Huon Aquaculture Group for AUD 425 million (US$312.5 million). 

Based in Tasmania, Huon farms salmon and ocean trout, and its products are sold at stores and supermarkets across Australia, as well as via the company’s online store. 

The company is said to be Australia’s second-largest salmon producer and has invested more than US$256.6 million over the past five years in operational infrastructure and sustainable practices in the salmon production cycle. 

The acquisition marks JBS’s second deal in Australia this year and follows the company’s April acquisition of Rivalea, a leader in pig production. 

With Huon, JBS further ventures into the animal protein market which is increasingly considered unsustainable and unfriendly to the environment. 

JBS’ investment in salmon however seems informed as per-capital consumption of fish is forecast to grow by 5% globally over the next 10 years, according to data from United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 

In Oceania, this rate should reach 7%, and 15% in China, according to the FAO which further projects that by 2023 aquaculture produced for human consumption will exceed what is caught from river and sea fishing. 

“This is a strategic acquisition, which marks the entry of JBS into the aquaculture business,” said Gilberto Tomazoni, global chief executive officer of JBS. 

 “We will repeat what we did previously with poultry, pork and value-added products — to make our portfolio even more complete. Aquaculture will be a new growth platform for our businesses.” 

JBS has had a presence in Australia since 2007 when it acquired the operations of Swift. The meat company also operates in Tasmania, with a beef cattle processing unit at Longford.   

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“There is huge complementariness with the other business we carry on in Australia, including customer relationships, distribution and marketing,” said Brent Eastwood, CEO of JBS in Australia. 

Earlier in March, JBS’s Brazilian subsidiary Seara Foods announced it was beginning to distribute products in the fish and seafood segment, with products like salmon, tilapia and shrimp, among others. 

 Now, following the acquisition of Huon, which is subject to customary conditions, the Brazilian meat giant will have its own production. 

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