A land-based salmon farm in Indiana is preparing to make its debut on the U.S. market in the coming months after delays due to the pandemic. The first genetically engineered animal for human consumption in the U.S. could be available to consumers as soon as this April.
AquaBounty Technologies' original date for harvesting the genetically modified salmon was at the end of last year.
But, President and CEO Sylvia Wulf said salmon prices collapsed because of the way COVID-19 has affected the economy.
She said there’s also the pressure of launching the first genetically engineered animal into the U.S. supply chain.
“What we want to do is make sure that we're timing that harvest, with the recovery of the economy, because we know that demand is going to continue to increase,” said Wulf.
For now, Wulf said the company is focusing on a sampling program that allows a few select customers to provide feedback before official sales begin.
The Indiana facility is starting to harvest and produce genetically engineered salmon that has been growing there since the first batch of eggs were delivered in 2019.
Some environmental groups have raised concerns over the fish being a risk to wild salmon populations. Some food retailers including Aramark have already said they will not distribute the genetically engineered salmon.
However, Wulf said she feels confident that there will be demand.
“You know, our consumer research findings, as we've stated and we continue to confirm this, is that seven out of 10 indicate a purchase intent, once they understand the why behind what we do, what we did, and how we operate,” said Wulf. “You know, what consumers really care about is affordability, accessibility, taste, and environmental impact.”
While there are no official buyers yet, Wulf said a few customers and distributors have expressed interest in purchasing the salmon.
The company has already been selling the genetically engineered fish in Canada.