John Diener, CEO of an aquaculture nutrition and genetics company, has visited hundreds of shrimp farms. He was often horrified: in many of these farms the practices adopted are unsustainable from an environmental point of view. Not to mention the impact on consumer health, undermined by the abuse of antibacterials and other supplements to make these crustaceans grow "better". This is why Diener decided to do away with "traditional methods" and literally built a new production and business model.
Vertical Oceans, shrimp raised "vertically"
The result of Diener's efforts is Vertical Oceans, a startup created together with an Italian data scientist, Enzo Acerbi. What does Vertical Oceans do? Grow sustainable shrimp in huge "water towers" that can be placed inside cities - basically vertical farms. Urban water towers can incubate shrimp without using chemicals or antibiotics, at any time of the year - even out of season.
Not bad when you consider that the global shrimp market is worth over € 50 billion a year.
To my knowledge, this is the first time that Silicon Valley investors have focused on aquaculture: I consider it not a very weak signal of the direction that food production will take. In the past 6 months, Vertical Oceans has already made 10 harvests in its test facility. Guess where it is? But of course, in the world center of "vertical food factories": in Singapore.
Anywhere and anyway
Our water tower-raised shrimp taste like fresh ocean shrimp. This is a very difficult result to consistently achieve in a recirculating aquaculture system. Because our product is so fresh and of high quality, we can sell at a price equal to that of the catch product, and at a higher price than frozen shrimp. A price that amply offsets the costs of switching to the vertical and urban farming system.John Diener, Vertical Oceans
The system is designed to be a "position indifferent" vertical farm. It works in all cities, including those with cold winters (like Chicago). From Singapore, I bet, he will go around the world, shrimp after shrimp.