London, U.K.-based private equity impact investment fund Ocean 14 Capital has invested over EUR 10 million (USD 9.7 million) in Brazilian tilapia producer Tilabras.
Launched in 2019, Ocean 14 Capital, is seeking to build a portfolio of 20 to 25 holdings within three years that offer both environmental benefits for oceans and provide competitive financial gains for investors. Tilabras said it has developed “a planet-friendly model” for farming tilapia by feeding its fish on a fully-sustainable, vegan diet, while minimizing its CO2 footprint.
“Our partnership with Tilabras continues Ocean 14 Capital’s direct focus on the intersection of sustainability and finance, creating impactful, industrial platforms enabling measured, sustainable growth of one of the most efficient forms of protein production on the planet,” Ocean 14 Capital Founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer Francisco Saraiva Gomes said.
Its investment will support Tilabras’ vision to become the lowest natural-cost, at-scale producer of whitefish in the world, he said.
The fund’s capital will be used to expand Tilabras’ farming base, increase its production capacity and efficiency, and will also continue the vertical integration of the group with a new processing plant and hatchery.
Tilabras Founder Nicolas Landolt said Ocean 14 Capital’s expertise, knowledge, and the fund’s ability to execute will help the company enhance growth while improving its resource efficiency.
“The period ahead of us is one of great expansion and development and we must do so with an ever-stronger commitment to sustainability. We are looking forward to building our hatchery and breeding operations, as well as the expansion of our farming and processing plants,” he said.
Chris Gorell Barnes, another of the fund’s founding partners, said tilapia is one of the world’s most-sustainable sources of animal protein, as it is six times more efficient at converting plant-based feed into animal proteins than cattle. It is also more affordable than other commonly farmed fish, such as salmon, making it a highly viable protein source for the world’s growing population.
“Our partnership with Tilabras focuses on enabling this transition to large-scale, low-impact fish farming, harnessing the best of modern technology,” he said. “Tilapia is set to grow to a USD 9.2 billion [EUR 9.5 billion] industry by 2027 – it really is the future in terms of how we feed the world.”
First launched in December 2021, the Ocean 14 Capital impact investment fund has already made three investments this year. Most recently, it entered into an agreement to invest in MITO S.r.L, a European clam breeder and hatchery.
Last month, it received a commitment for EUR 10 million from the Constitutional Reserve Fund of Monaco to support its mission of funding sustainable solutions to improve ocean health. With this backing, the EUR 150 million (USD 145.6 million) fund is on track to invest in eight companies this year, and to grow its portfolio to between 20 and 25 businesses within three years.
Ocean 14 Capital is a partnership between the founders of Pontos Aqua, the Blue Marine Foundation, and Vedra Partners, and its advisors include scientists, marine biologists, and impact investors. The fund will invest in companies that are working to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water. Its investments will focus on companies working in five fields: sustainable aquaculture; sustainable fisheries; alternatives to fish protein; seaweed; and circular plastics. It has invested in Singapore-based shrimp genetics company SyAqua, in Italian clam breeder and hatchery MITO and in plastic waste recycling firm AION, jointly with Aker Biomarine.
In September, the Constitutional Reserve Fund of Monaco allocated EUR 10 million (USD 9.7 million) to the Ocean 14 Capital EUR 150 million (USD 148 million) “blue economy” impact fund to back innovators and solutions working to improve ocean health. With the backing, the fund said it is on track to invest in eight companies this year alone. About two-thirds of the fund are expected to go to companies based in Europe, with the remainder being invested in the rest of the world.
According to Chris Gorell Barnes, founding partner of Ocean 14 Capital, the investment looks to drive sustainable fish farming.
“Wild fish catches have been stagnant for nearly twenty years, despite huge growth in fishing efforts and technology. So the only way demand for fish can be met without stripping the seas is to scale sustainable aquaculture production methods,” he said. “Our partnership with Tilabras focuses on enabling this transition to large scale, low impact fish farming, harnessing the best of modern technology. Tilapia is set to grow to a USD 9.2 billion [EUR 8.9 billion] industry by 2027 – it really is the future in terms of how we can feed the world.”
Tilabras, a family-owned company, was originally founded in 2015 in a partnership between Regal Springs Tilapia and Axial, a holding company of Mar & Terra in Brazil.
“Tilapia farmed inland in high carrying capacity man-made sites is the most sustainable alternative to whitefish caught from the ocean,” Saraiva Gomes said. “The fund’s investment in Tilabras supports the company’s vision to become the lowest ‘natural-cost,’ at-scale producer of white fish in the world.”
Photo courtesy of Tilabras