Sales for Australian yellowtail kingfish producer Clean Seas Seafood, the largest producer of the species outside of Japan, kept surging in the fourth quarter as its new diversification strategy, accelerated by COVID, continues to pay off.

Rocketing prices combined with increasing global awareness and a growing appetite for kingfish, sled to the group posting a healthy revenue of AUD 17.4 million (€11.9 million/$12.1 million) in its fiscal fourth quarter, and AUD 66.2 million (€45.2 million/$46.2 million) for the full year, an increase of 37 percent over this time last year for both figures.

The group managed a price per kilo of AUD 19.68 (€13.40/$13.70) for its fish during the quarter, 53 percent higher than the same period a year ago. For the full year, average price per kilo amounted to AUD 17.61 (€12/$12.30), representing a 15 percent increase on 2021.

Meanwhile, the group also benefited from significantly lower production costs.

For the full year, the cost of production is expected to be in the range of AUD 12.35 (€8.40/$8.60) to AUD 12.45 (€8.50/$8.70) per kilogram, representing a 19 percent decrease from 2021, it said.

This is despite a 9 percent increase in the average cost of feed throughout the year, and the group said it continues to observe month-on-month reductions in the cost of production.

The group sold 882 metric tons of kingfish during the fourth quarter and 3,757 metric tons for the whole year, a 19 percent and 15 percent increase, respectively, over 2021.

Yellowtail kingfish in South Australia typically experiences strong growth between October to May when the seawater temperatures are warmer.

As a result, feed consumption typically peaks in the second half of the company's fiscal year and requires the group to purchase and pay for materially higher quantities of feed.

Clean Seas’ CEO Rob Gratton said the "exceptionally strong trading performance," combined with the reduction in production costs meant the group delivered positive operating cash flows for 2022, "a year earlier than our expectations."

"And despite ongoing increases in input costs, we have been successful in materially reducing our per kilogram cost of production," he said.

In June, Clean Seas said it now has a clear path to increase production to 10,000 metric tons in the near term, with total potential of 30,000 metric tons.

The company, which supplies 98 percent of Australia's kingfish consumption and 35 percent of Europe's consumption, said it now has the scale, market reach and available license capacity to deliver on its goal of a threefold increase in production.

This diversification had always been on the agenda, CEO Rob Gratton told IntraFish in January, but it took on a new urgency when the pandemic struck.

The company, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, with a secondary listing in Oslo, has a broad range of investors, the largest being Bonafide Wealth Management with 17.4 percent. It is followed by Hofseth Group & Nevera with 6.1 percent and Regal Funds Management with 5 percent.