Land-based trout farming startup Big Akwa is one step closer to producing rainbow trout following a land-purchase agreement with the Swedish municipality of Ange.

Sweden-based Big Akwa signed a deal with the owner of an industrial site in the Alby Ostra region that should pave the way for the company's planned 6,000-metric-ton land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) rainbow trout farm.

The land was not acquired, but the agreement gives the company access to the land with an option to buy the property in the future, Big Akwa CTO Per-Johan Ahlzen told IntraFish.

"The agreement is part of the ongoing project preparation, and also includes possibilities for future expansion," Ahlzen said.

The company has initial plans to produce 3,000 metric tons of trout in 2026, and 6,000 metric tons in 2028, he said. The company recently began the environmental assessment procedure for the site.

It expects an investment of around €40 million ($42 million) for Phase 1, Ahlzen noted.

Current investors include Sweden-based financial firms Almi Invest and Sparbanksstiftelsen Norrlands Riskkapitalstiftelse. The company has also received a number of grants and small loans, and is currently working on its next financing round.

Last year, the startup partnered with SEK 15.4 billion ($1.8 billion/€1.5 billion) pulp and paper giant Svenska Cellulosa to determine how low-grade waste heat from paper mills could be used to help heat water for its growout tanks, and in turn use nitrogen and phosphorous-rich fish waste to grow bacteria paper mills require for production.

"The pulp project is still under development, and we work actively with SCA and the pulp industry to realize it, but more time is needed to fully realize the project," Big Akwa CEO Elena Petukhovskaya told IntraFish.

The Swedish aquaculture industry produces around 11,000 metric tons annually, translating to about one kilo per person in a country that consumes between 27-34 kilos of seafood per person. The EU average hovers around 22 kilos per capita.

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