Land-based genetically modified (GM) salmon producer AquaBounty is sending samples of its AquAdvantage salmon to wholesale customers, with plans to harvest its GM product for sale by April.
"The first round of samples are being harvested today and throughout this week," Sylvia Wulf, the company's CEO, said during an online media briefing Tuesday. She added foodservice remains its target for introducing the first genetically modified salmon to US consumers later this year.
Wulf would not name the customers the company is working with in the United States, but said they number between 8 and 10 buyers who are in foodservice and retail.
"We’re sending a representative number of salmon--more than 1, less than 10 --to each customer so they can see consistency in terms of the quality and taste and texture," she said.
Though the company completed the first harvest of conventional salmon in the second quarter of 2020, the harvest timing for its GM fish was delayed by the collapse of the US foodservice sector.
That led to lower volumes and higher inventory for the company, a situation it expects to continue through the first half of this year.
"This is not the best time to bring a new salmon supplier into the supply chain," she said, referring to COVID's impact on the price of salmon imports coming to the United States from Norway and Chile throughout the pandemic.
"We want to make sure we’re timing that harvest with the recovery of the economy," she said of the company's GM product.
While the company had raised conventional salmon during the pandemic, Wulf said AquaBounty has now fully switched to selling GM salmon. The company was harvesting conventional salmon to refine taste and work out any kinks in the supply chain and other logistics before launching GM salmon.
The company plans to produce 100 metric tons of GM salmon per month at its Albany, Indiana facility, which has a capacity to produce 1,200 metric tons of salmon per year.