Jan 8th, 2006 - Sion Barry: A South Wales fish feed venture has its sights on reeling in revenues of more than £300m.
Port Talbot-based Dragon Feeds has pioneered new technology in the production of sustainable fish feeds - which don't deplete existing sea fish stocks.
Established in 1997 the company has successfully commercialised a rag worm-based (polychaete) fish feed which is farmed in Holland and processed at the company's Port Talbot mill.
Next month the company, which is to launch a shrimp feed, will unveil a new mill at Port Talbot, which will increase feed capacity by 24 tons a day.
The company has its sights on a massive production expansion next year - with the opening of a new operation at GE's gas powered Baglan Energy Park.
The company has struck an agreement with GE to harvest steam generated by the gas station, to be used in the manufacturing process at its new £20m mill.
Dragon Feeds said its Baglan Energy Park facility will have a capacity to produce 500,000 tons of feed (in pellet form) a year.
Managing director of the family-run business Tony Smith, describes the so-called aquaculture industry as a huge potential growth area for Wales.
He said, "The fish feed element of the industry alone is worth £30bn annually worldwide, and the industry is growing at a rate of 8-10% each year.
We already have an impressive list of global clients [fish farms] including those in South America, Europe and the Caribbean.
The only thing that is holding us back at the moment is capacity. The new mill, which opens next month, will generate an additional 24 tons a day.
However, in 2007, the mill at Baglan Energy Park will give us additional capacity to produce 500,000 tons a year of fish and shrimp feed.
The average price per ton for fish feed is currently £600, so we could be talking about revenues of £300m a year.
Mr Smith said that sustainable feed was the way forward to satisfy growing global demand for fish feeds.
He added, Unlike other foods which use fish meal and oils, and so deplete stocks, our product is a sustainable solution developed here in Wales.
Dragon Feeds will be one of a number Welsh aquaculture companies that will take part in the industry's showcase event taking place in the United States next month.
A special stand at the Las Vegas event for Welsh aquaculture firms is being organised as part of the Welsh Assembly Government's ExportAssist initiative. Dragon Feeds will launch its new shrimp feed product at the event.
Mr Smith said, Support from ExportAssist enabled us to access larger and more distant markets than we would otherwise have been able to reach.
The support the initiative offers makes it feasible for even the smallest companies to exploit overseas potential.
Attending trade events alongside other Welsh aquaculture companies is very important too. We are confident of winning a number of new contracts from participating in the Las Vegas event.