Published by Undercurrent News 

Spanish seafood giant Grupo Nueva Pescanova has invested €8 million to expand production at its shrimp production facilities in Nicaragua, having sold its plant in Honduras, the firm's CEO, Ignacio Gonzalez, told Undercurrent News.

The group, which processed over 45,000 metric tons of shrimp last year, sold its Honduran subsidiary in December, it announced in February. 

Meanwhile, Nueva Pescanova strengthened its operations in Nicaragua with the acquisition of a farm and various investments, which increased its shrimp production in the country by 7,000t, it said in a press release. 

"[The plant in] Honduras was sold for a matter of profitability and we have invested in increasing water recirculation [at the farm] in Nicaragua, because we have noted last year better survival and higher growth rates [thanks to water recirculation]," Gonzalez told Undercurrent News during an interview at the Brussels seafood show last month.

The investment in Nicaragua totaled €8 million, Gonzalez said.

"We are converting an activity that has 2,000 hectares into 4,000 hectares, doubling with good performance thanks to water circulation for the entire surface. Aquaculture can grow by expanding land or thanks to 'technification'. To modernize, technology is a great investment," Gonzalez said, pointing out that the group's production in Nicaragua will progressively grow this year and that by the end of 2018, production should be double compared with "a normal cycle".

As a result of the recent investments, Nueva Pescanova will produce more shrimp from its own production this year, Gonzalez also pointed out.

The company owns approximately 7,500 hectares of aquaculture farms between Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Pescanova also farms turbot in Spain and tilapia in Brazil. Nueva Pescanova's production in Nicaragua accounts for about 50% of the country's shrimp production.

In Ecuador, the firm processes its own farmed shrimp, as well as volumes bought from other producers. 

At present, Nueva Pescanova is not investing in its facilities in Guatemala, where the firm owns farms and a processing plant, Gonzalez said.

Here the firm processes its own production as well as some volumes coming from Ecuador to produce value-added shrimp products, as processing costs are cheaper than in Ecuador. 

The shrimp industry's "technification" is an ongoing process, executive president of Ecuador's National Aquaculture Chamber, Jose Antonio Camposano, told Undercurrent last year.

Meanwhile, Nueva Pescanova is trying to grow downstream, according to its strategic plan. The group presented its new seafood tapas range at the Boston seafood show in March, while it is promoting its brand both in France and Italy.  

Nueva Pescanova has dropped its Krustanord shrimp brand in France and is investing in a big marketing push, Gonzalez said.