Mediterranean marine aquaculture is on the way to becoming a myth, if it is not already.
We have recently held the first Workshop of the MedAID-EU Project, where the results of the first year of work have been presented, an evaluation of the producing sector and an analysis of the main competitiveness indicators. Our colleagues from the University of Cantabria, in their presentation, indicated that a significant change is taking place in the sector, and point out that there is a trend towards business concentration, but not any concentration, but aimed at having fewer and fewer companies and larger.
These sectoral changes have occurred previously (2004 and 2011 are the most significant) but always within an order of magnitude clearly Mediterranean and with a proprietary and corporate structure that we could also define as Mediterranean or rather European.
Selonda, Nireus and Andromeda (three large Greek companies) have just come together with the aim of creating a joint venture to facilitate its acquisition by two investment firms, Amerra (US) and
Mubadala (EUA). The committee was concerned that this would affect competition, and has approved this joint venture with the inclusion of measures that safeguard and therefore have no impact on competition. The real momentum comes from Andromeda, which already made clear one year ago its goal of becoming a world leader in the aquaculture sector. Attention, it did not say exclusively Mediterranean.
Right now, I am not aware of what this union implies. Can it be that more than 75,000 tons and almost 400 million juveniles? Maybe 75% of European production? What is clear is that, if materialized, any previous analysis, including the one we are carrying out within the MedAID project, will be distorted by a reality that strives to be much faster than any analysis methodology. The aquaculture sector of the Mediterranean has its rules, and its competitiveness begins to be conditioned by other factors, not because it is not necessary to improve each and every one of the identified points, but because the resources and the strategic commitment of these companies change the rules of the game. Leadership is assured for a while. Andromeda to be close to his goal of becoming one of the international leaders.
Both Amerra and Mubadala are large venture capital companies that have decided to enter with unusual strength in aquaculture. As they say, their presence in the agribusiness sector is strategic, and aquaculture is one of the most promising sub-sectors. In addition, they say how they will be able to boost productivity improvements and accelerate growth, by deploying new technologies.
Seeing who they are and what they have behind them, their partnership, it is easy to reach the conclusion
that there are many possibilities that it will happen that, in this cycle, there will be few and very large companies. It is more than possible that the Mediterranean marine aquaculture rebound in terms of productivity and competitiveness, and surely there will be a phenomenon of demand adjustment that will make it possible to manage the sale price, the question is whether the rest of the sector, medium and small companies, are able to meet these challenges.
It seems that the small fish has eaten two large fish.