NIGERIA – Olam, Singapore-based global agribusiness company is conducting a feasibility study on fish farming in West Africa, especially Nigeria as it considers expansion strategy in a continent where protein demand is rising.

A surge in population growth, rising incomes and urbanization are mounting pressure on the livestock sector to meet the growing demand for high-value animal protein.

According to Anantharaman, Chief Operating Officer, Olam was considering to start the venture with partner and shareholder Mitsubishi Corp.

Mitsubishi Corp owns fish businesses and provides a wide range of quality seafood, including shrimp, salmon, octopus and squid, and processed seafood through a nationwide network of sales bases.

Olam is targeting the animal protein food business attracted by urbanization and infrastructure including cold chains, which permit trade in perishable goods.

As African countries develop, consumers are opting for high protein diets to fill the malnutrition gap and Olam is producing fish as part of its plans to target the growing middle class on the continent.

“There’s a strong growth pipeline for the next 20-30 years that we can see in Africa, as it has happened in Vietnam or Indonesia, or China,” Anantharaman said.

“We think that as the African population grows and the economics improves, we could really shift to higher protein.”

Olam operates poultry and fish feed facilities in Nigeria, in which it invested a total of US$150m.

The company entered the feed sector in November 2015, with Nigeria being the preferred entry market.

To ensure a stronger position in the poultry and feed-mill industry, the global agribusiness leader partnered with InVivo NSA, a French animal nutrition specialist.

In addition to operating a fish-feed factory, Olam farms poultry and mills wheat in the country.

According to Anantharaman, the expansion plans seeks to fill a gap where a lot of fish is imported, and this was driven by potential to grow it and make it far more easily available and at cheaper cost.