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Brazil seafood producer on lookout for investors

Nativ Pescados boss hopes new business friendly government and fresh funds will underpin revival of fortunes.

Brazilian producer Nativ Pescados is hoping an improved business climate following presidential elections next month will spark a revival in the company's fortunes.

The company has a capacity to produce 45 metric tons of fish daily, and it remains on the lookout for a partner or investors from home or overseas to help it reinvigorate its business, which focuses on producing species native to the region.

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"We need fuel, in this case funds, to help the business accelerate," Nativ Pescados CEO Pedro Furlan told IntraFish.

Losing a major domestic supply contract dragged the company into a loss-making situation just when credit for companies in Brazil dried up.

The company filed for Chapter 11-style business reorganization with debts running to BRL ($15.9 million/€13.7 million) in 2014, as Brazil plunged into its longest and deepest recession.

Before this, Nativ Pescados supplied an extensive network of retailers.

The company went from employing 350 workers in a modern processing plant to just 20 people who now produce 50 metric tons a month of pintado, a tasty Brazilian catfish. The company maintains the capacity to annually rear 5 million juvenile fish and fatten 850 metric tons of pintado.

Waiting game

While Brazil's economic predicament forced the business to play a waiting game, the election of a business-friendly government from October's likely two rounds of elections may bolster the company's efforts to attract a fresh injection of capital, Furlan said.

The Nativ Pescados boss said his company is ideally situated in Mato Grosso state, a leading grain producer and supplier to the aquaculture feed sector.

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Fish farmers in Mato Grosso state produced 60,134 metric tons of native species in 2017, in addition to 1,860 metric tons of tilapia.

The state ranked fourth behind Paraná, Rondonia and São Paulo among the country's aquaculture producing regions.

"The lowest cost fish in Brazil are being produced in this region," Furlan said. "Pintado is selling for less than below that of American catfish."

Furlan is eyeing not only markets for native species such as tambaqui and even pirarucu, but also a move into tilapia. Production is increasing in Mato Grosso to supply a rapidly expanding market in Brazil.

Brazilian farms produced 691,700 metric tons of fish in 2017, nearly 52 percent of which was tilapia (357,639 metric tons).

Native species made up 43.7 percent (302,235 metric tons), while carp and trout accounted for 4.6 percent (31,825 metric tons)

While Brazil is a long established exporter of beef and chicken, Furlan said the country will likely become a large fish exporter in the medium term as the aquaculture industry expands.

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