Murray Cod Australia (ASX:MCA) increasing production and sales

Interviews

by Anna Napoli

Murray Cod Australia Limited (ASX:MCA) Executive Chairman, Ross Anderson provides an update on production, sales and the launch of the Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod brand.

Anna Napoli: Hello, I'm Anna Napoli from the Finance News Network, and joining me now from Murray Cod Australia is Executive Chairman Ross Anderson. Ross, welcome to FNN.

Ross Anderson: Thank you, Anna. It's a pleasure to be here.

Anna Napoli: First up, can we start with an introduction to the company?

Ross Anderson: The company was listed on January 31, 2017. The founders of the company had been operating the business for six or seven years before that. And over the last couple of years, we've invested heavily in our infrastructure to build production. And now beginning to operate under the Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod brand. We're looking to put a lot more effort into our marketing and developing that side of the business.

Anna Napoli: What makes Murray Cod unique in Australian aquaculture?

Ross Anderson: It's very unique, Anna, in the sense that unlike other aquaculture companies, it's a land based model. So there's no chance of fish escaping, you know, from an animal hygiene point of view or a sustainability point of view. It's much, much stronger. The nutrient enriched water on the ponds goes out to irrigate crops and pastures on adjoining fields. One other thing that makes it really special is that it's not a commodity. We're a luxury food product. So it doesn't grow anywhere else in the world. It's one of the best freshwater fish in the world, we have chefs like Tetsuya and Matt Moran and Heston Blumenthal telling us how good it is. And it's a protected species; so there's no wild catch to compete with.

Anna Napoli: Now to your operations and sales. Can you tell us more starting with production?

Ross Anderson: Well, we've been very, very happy with our results in production; we've moved our productive capacity from 40 tonnes to over a 1000 tonnes in two years since we've been listed. And in very rough terms, if people wanted to look at it without having monthly schedules and complicated things, we can say that we've got about 850,000 fish in the water. If they sold at an average of a kilo and a half each, there's about 12 to 1300 tonnes of fish coming through for sale in the next 18 months.

Anna Napoli: And what about your sales and marketing?

Ross Anderson: Well, our sales have been wonderful in that we haven't really had to do much marketing; the quality of the fish has sold itself. And with leading restaurants around Australia using our fish on their menu, the trickle down effect has been that many foodies want to get hold of the product. We haven't introduced our smoked product yet, and we're extremely confident that that's going to go well. Taste testing on over 20,000 people has been amazing.

Anna Napoli: And Ross, how about your development?

Ross Anderson: Look, development's fantastic. From a genetic point of view, we're only a couple of generations removed from wild stock. So as our genetic program builds on itself, we'll actually end up with a subspecies of fish called Aquna, just like you have Wagyu beef or Hereford beef or Angus beef, we will have Aquna cod. On the product side of it, it's going to be really special as well. We've taste tested our smoked fish on over 20,000 people, and the results on that have just been amazing. People just love it. And then we've got things like the fish skin, which the Asians in particular really love in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam. Our fish stock coming through. And one of the things that's amazing is that the fish fat is currently being used by some chefs for cooking their vegetables.

Anna Napoli: And Ross, can you provide us with an update on your financials?

Ross Anderson: Our financials have been great; our business is growing rapidly. One of the things that investors need to be aware of is that it takes two years to grow a fish. So we feed those fish effectively for two years from the time they hatched until they're fully grown. So that does eat into our cash flow in the early days, which is what's occurred with us. But now we're coming through to a situation where we've got a lot of fish in the water coming to maturity, and our financial position will get much stronger over the next 18 months.

Anna Napoli: And what about the share price over the last 12 months?

Ross Anderson: Look, the share price has been fantastic; we listed at five cents. We're currently trading at seventeen cents. So investors are up 340 per cent so far, which is a great result for them. But I caution people to realise that we've got a long way to go. This business is in its infancy, and there's a lot of growth to occur in the company yet.

Anna Napoli: Last question, Ross, is there anything else you'd like to add?

Ross Anderson: Look, I think it's important that people understand the idea of it being a luxury product. And the brand Aquna means flowing waters in the Aboriginal language. We have four foundations to our brand. The first being that our taste credentials are built on real substance. It is beautiful quality fish; the best freshwater fish in the world. The second thing is that innovation is in our core, so we're always looking for a better way to do things. And through innovation and technology, we've actually produced a better quality product than you could catch in the wild. It tastes better.

The third part of our foundation of our brand is that people will value a product with integrity. And so we can give you 100 per cent traceability on the fish from the day it's born, we can tell you who its mother and father is, we can tell you what it's been fed, what's been in the water, and you understand everything about that fish the day it hits your dinner plate. And the last and perhaps most important aspect is that our product is built around our impact on planet Earth. The catch itself is not growing. And so there's a real risk that the sustainability of our seas won't be there for the future, and that companies like ours will need to come through and pick up the slack.

Anna Napoli: Ross Anderson, thank you for the update.

Ross Anderson: Thank you, Anna. It's been a pleasure.


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