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Omega adds another layer of vertical integration to Cooke empire

Cooke already has its own feed company, so Omega will fit nicely into the company's integration model.

Cooke Aquaculture’s acquisition of Omega Protein adds yet another layer of vertical integration onto the Canadian salmon giant, whose revenue after Friday’s acquisition now exceeds $2.5 billion (€2.1 billion).

Omega produces fish oil, protein-rich specialty fishmeal and other ingredients for livestock and aquaculture feed manufacturers.

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And that dovetails nicely into Cooke’s existing feed manufacturing company, Northeast Nutrition in Nova Scotia, Cooke's Communication Manager Chuck Brown told IntraFish.

In 2007, Cooke acquired the former Shur-Gain Aquaculture feed plant in Truro, Nova Scotia, and established Northeast Nutrition Inc.

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“It certainly is a great fit for us,” Brown said. “This strengthens our integration model.”

On the grow-out side, Northeast Nutrition supplies feed for 85 percent of the salmon the company farms on the east coast of North America, he said. And with the addition of Omega, Cooke is looking to further increase feed production at its subsidiary.

The move also expands Cooke’s footprint in wild fisheries.

Omega operates seven manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Europe. The company also operates more than 30 vessels that harvest menhaden in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Cooke also owns and operates fishing assets in Alaska, through its subsidiary Icicle Seafoods. In addition, it is capable of harvesting more than 4,000 tons of wild scallops through its Wanchese Fish Company Division.

And its Cooke Uruguay division operates the largest fishery in that country, traditionally harvesting 16,000 tons of Patagonia silver hake and 1,600 tons of Patagonia red crab annually. It operates a fleet of 21 vessels there.

For now, said Brown, it will be business as usual at Omega, and there will be no change in day-to-day operations.

The deal, valued at $500 million (€426 million), is expected to close in either Q4 of this year or Q1 2018, he said.

Here's CEO Bret Scholtes speaking at the IntraFish Seafood Investor Forum earlier this year about fishmeal's role in aquaculture:

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