U.S. fishing and aquaculture is a major industry, with its pre-pandemic 2019 value sitting at $255 billion.
But the industry was seriously affected by COVID — both from restaurant closings and interruptions to the global supply chain — with fishery imports falling 37% in just the first few months of 2020. This did not necessarily reflect a decline in fish consumption; in fact, retail fish sales increased even while food-service fish sales rapidly declined.
This may make the market situation particularly attractive to companies like Nocera Inc. (OTC: NCRA), which says it has aspirations to enter the U.S. fish and aquaculture market.
Nocera is a U.S. recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) production and consulting company based in Taiwan. It reports that it provides services in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of its land-based fish farms and is focused on cost-efficiency and sustainability.
Swimming Upstream in a Polluted Market?
Nocera reports that its farms are efficient, with its tanks producing up to 30,000 pounds of fish annually — and that its work is also in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to minimize waste and pollution.
Nocera boasts that it is able to recycle 90% of the water used to maximize the energy efficiency loop, and has also introduced a system where solar panels standing above the fish tanks can satisfy the farm’s energy needs.
It matches this sustainability with production efficiency, which means it is able to farm at 80 times the production rate of a traditional fish farm, according to its website. This model, with tanks that have reportedly minimal production costs while also outproducing alternatives, may attract smaller farms that see it as an opportunity to enter the market.
When matched with a goal of a cost-effective production model, this has seemingly led to growth allowing Nocera to proudly describe itself as “the most recommended circulating water equipment company in Asia” as of December 2020. Company growth continued, with 2021 seeing $9.9 million in revenue, an increase of over 700% from 2020.
Nocera CEO Jeff Cheng reacted to 2021 results saying, “We are pleased to report significant growth in our total sales, operating income and shareholders’ equity. Fiscal 2021 saw strong growth in our construction services division. We expect there to be continued strong demand for our recirculating aquaculture systems as well as construction services.”
The company states that it achieves this partly through its cost-effective building materials and its emphasis on tilapia. Tilapia is relatively cheap to farm, and in a fish market dominated by mainly Norwegian salmon farms like Mowi ASA (OTC: MHGVY) and Lerøy Seafood Group ASA (OTC: LYSFF), along with HF Foods Group Inc (NASDAQ: HFFG) Blue Star Foods (NASDAQ:BSFC) andAquaBounty Technologies (NASDAQ:AQB) Nocera is hoping its emphasis on tilapia and catfish will be beneficial — especially as the tilapia market is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.1% from 2021 to 2026.