BioMar Group is an industrial company created more than sixty years ago by Danish fish farmers.
The company is considered a world leader in aquaculture nutrition.
According to mordorintelligence, “The Vietnamese aquaculture feed market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate.) of 5.7% during the forecast period (2022-2027)”.
As a member of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), Vietnam is involved in various bilateral and free trade agreements of significant importance in international trade. The Vietnamese aquaculture trade is also linked to the main economic powers such as the United States, China or India. In addition, the European Union and Vietnam signed a trade agreement on this subject in June 2019.
In 2020, BioMar and Viet-UC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop and produce aquaculture feed in Vietnam.
The company BioMar has also imported the principle and methods of sustainable farming in this kind of business.
I have the opportunity today to have an interview with the vice-president of the Asia division of BioMar, Mr. Loubère.
Hello, Could you quickly introduce yourself and your business please?
Hello, My name is François-Marie Loubère, I am Vice-President of BioMar, in charge of Asia. As you specified earlier, it is a Danish company established for 60 years and specialized in the manufacture of fish and shrimp feed. The company is present wherever aquaculture develops. We have in fact 17 factories in different countries such as Norway, Chile, Scotland, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Australia, China and Vietnam. In Asia, we currently have three factories – two in China and one in Vietnam. The company is built in four regions, involving 4 vice presidents – one in South America, another in Northern Europe, one for the Mediterranean and one in Asia, myself. To explain to you a little better who I am… Before taking this position in 2021, I was Managing Director of the French and Spanish factories which serve the markets of Southern Europe, Africa and part of the Middle Orient within the EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa) division. My tenure lasted 10 years.
Thank you very much for this quick presentation… Can you share some figures regarding your company’s scope?
Indeed, to explain the company BioMar quickly: it is a billion euros in turnover placing us as one of the largest companies in this field of activity. However, there is a lot of competition in the world, but we are the only company specializing in aquaculture. We offer food for over 45 different species of fish and shrimp and we sell our products in over 90 countries around the world.
Regarding job creation in Asia, do you have any figures?
In Vietnam, we already employ a hundred people. This figure should normally be doubled in the next three years. This, of course, does not take into account potential new acquisitions.
We create jobs in Vietnam, but also in China where we have two factories with 200 employees.
Most of the factory employees were already there when we took over. They already had a knowledge of the work and a significant ability for action when BioMar set up in Asia. For my part, I created the management team in Vietnam.
We are eight people in management including: production, purchasing, quality, marketing, finance, human resources and general management
Thanks. I would like you to explain to me a little about the current situation in the aquaculture industry, particularly in Asia? And moreover, why did you open up to the Asian market?
This is a fairly simple analysis that can be performed. We can see that the population is growing more and more and that the consumption of fish or shrimp is constantly increasing. Consumption is higher and Asia is a good place to shrimp farm, but also many other species. At the moment, the BioMar company does not have a large market share, but we are present through important partners. In Vietnam, for example, we are associated with the company VietUC with a 70/30 shareholding.
To come back to the situation of the aquaculture market in Asia, we can make a distinction between SOUTH-EAST Asia and China, which are two distinct markets…
Could you please explain your point of view to me?
China is a market on its own, with very strong domestic consumption. Imports are not very important in this country whereas in Southeast Asia, we can see a significant phenomenon of interpenetration and especially of export. For the moment, we have had a factory in Vietnam since 2021 but our objective is to acquire and/or build new factories in this geographical area. This is also one of the main missions that I have to accomplish. We had planned to establish ourselves in Vietnam and China since 2020 already, but the Covid-19 crisis has somewhat delayed this establishment. Since February 2022, we have taken possession of the premises and brought them up to BioMar standards. The end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 are and will be the launch times for larger-scale commercialization.
Do you have a typical projection plan for the year 2023 or how does this work?
Our goal is to fill the capacity of the plant which is around 40,000 tons and should double quickly. The factory we have in Bến Tre, in the Mekong Delta, is sized to allow us to expand production. Afterwards, we still face the competition. The fact of proposing a different conception of aquaculture is an asset that serves to set us apart.
Why do you qualify the BioMar company as different from the others?
BioMar strives to develop and provide animal feed solutions that are both healthy and sustainable. We are innovators for sustainable aquaculture. We aim, by 2030, to become a neutral company in terms of carbon and polluting gas emissions. This is a huge challenge that we have taken up with the Group's general management, because we are aware of the sustainability and usefulness of this achievement. We have also implemented a new food traceability system. All of our raw material suppliers are accredited and we will become ASC accredited by the end of this year. According to the official website, www.asc-aqua.org, ASC or Aquaculture Stewardship Council is the world's leading certification system for aquaculture seafood products - and the ASC label only appears on foods from operations that have been independently assessed and certified as environmentally and socially responsible.
Ok thank you very much for this answer. Could you tell me a little about your installation in Vietnam? How did it go? Have you had any complications?
When I arrived in Vietnam in early 2022, I went through a period of quarantine, the Covid 19 was still rampant. And as everyone has experienced, the economy was slowing down, commercial activity suffered enormously from travel restrictions. It took us much longer than expected to recruit and start the industrial and commercial activity. The core of the management team was built through online recruitment from the end of 2021 with the help of a consultant. It was certainly not ideal but in the end the errors were few. Once there, things became clearer. What I remember are several things not to be overlooked: The constitution of the company is not obvious and the choice of a lawyer, a relocation company, recruitment advice are essential to avoid gross errors. Our local partner contributed to the choice of a subsidiary manager and to the obtaining of certain authorizations. But physical presence is essential, personal contact is indispensable.
Moreover, running a business in Vietnam cannot be compared to what is practiced in Europe. The culture is very different despite a generally serene impression at first sight. In an activity like ours, the language barrier requires relays of bilingual and bicultural key personnel. This is certainly what makes recruitment more difficult, but it is what gives greater chances of success. Similarly, the administrative constraints and sometimes very long delays in obtaining certain authorizations should not be overlooked. The perception of time is not the same. As for my personal installation, it was greatly facilitated by a relocation company. An efficient system that avoids many delays and administrative setbacks in a country very different from those I have known in Europe, Africa or the Middle East.
Thank you very much for your time and this very interesting interview. One last thing, could you describe your company, BioMar, in three keywords?
I would prefer to recall the motto of the company “we are innovators dedicated to efficient and sustainable aquaculture”. This describes both the values that the company advocates and the business strategy.
Thank you so much,
To find more information about the company: https://www.biomar.com/en