Cargill agrees to buy a fish-feed producer, as demand for salmon grows

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Cargill is acquiring a Norwegian fish feed supplier for $1.49 billion, making the company one of the three largest aqua-feed producers in the world.

Cargill announced early Monday morning it entered into an agreement to acquire EWOS, a global leader in salmon nutrition. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

“This transaction ... is a strategic investment in our long-term growth and evidence of our commitment to the growing aquaculture industry,” David MacLennan, Cargill president and CEO, said in the announcement.

The deal comes as the demand for salmon grows.

Farmed fish production has topped beef production for the first time in modern history, environmental think tank the Earth Policy Institute reported. Many are turning to the fish (which are high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D) as they aim to eat healthier, the Evening Standard says.

“With the need for protein expected to grow by 70 percent worldwide by 2050, farmed fish and shrimp offers one solution to meeting this demand, and Cargill intends to play a major role in this growing and important market,” Sarena Lin, president of Cargill’s Feed & Nutrition business, said in the announcement.

EWOS specializes in cold-water fish feed, while Cargill's previous ventures into the aquaculture market have been with warm-water fish, including shrimp and tilapia, the Business Journal says.

This is the Wayzata-based company's second aquaculture acquisition over the last month. In July, Cargill announced a joint venture with Naturisa to build a shrimp feed facility in Ecuador.

Bloomberg notes this deal makes Cargill – the world's largest grain trader – one of the top three aqua-feed producers.

This $1.5 billion deal is Cargill's largest purchase since 2011 when it acquired the animal-feed group Provimi.

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