About this series
Building Asia is a collection of business stories on CNA that examines the financial forces driving Asia's position as an economic powerhouse.
Barramundi Group – Forging a sustainable future is the eighth episode in the Building Asia with UOB series and was first aired on 31 May 2021. It looks at how UOB supported Barramundi Group in building a sustainable, end-to-end business model with financing terms that were more favourable to its business cycle.
Andreas von Scholten (Chief Executive Officer, Barramundi Group Pte Ltd):
The fish we enjoy every day takes a long journey before it ends up on our plates. This journey starts even before it is hatched.
Founded in 2008, Barramundi Group operates the largest ocean barramundi farms in Australia and Singapore.
We are redefining how a fish farm works with world-class sustainability fish farming practices and aquaculture technology.
Barramundi Group started in Singapore with two farms, one out of Pulau Semakau and one out of Raffles Lighthouse. We later acquired our farm in Cone Bay, the largest ocean barramundi farm in all of Australia.
Barramundi Group operates our own Recirculating Aquaculture System farms in clean tidal environments.
Leong Yung Chee (Head, Corporate Banking, UOB):
Fish farming is Capex-intensive, it takes a few years for fish to grow.
There is also the element of risk inherent to commercial farming whether it is in agriculture and aquaculture. We researched the sector extensively, we also saw implications for Singapore, how can we reduce our reliance on imported produce?
This comes with the need to do so in a sustainable way as well.
Andreas von Scholten:
Barramundi Group adopts a self-sufficient farming method that places a high priority on environmental protection.
Our specially formulated fish pellets do not pollute the waters off Singapore.
We have also installed solar panels at our farm site.
In 2020 we acquired Allegro Aqua, a deep tech start-up that develops quality barramundi through natural selection and a gene-based breeding program.
UOB supported that acquisition together with UVAXX which develops and supplies proprietary vaccines for us and third-party farm operators, to uplift Singapore’s food security and sustainability efforts.
This innovation affords us an end-to-end business model. That is what makes our company quite unique.
Leong Yung Chee:
UOB has a sustainability framework that simplifies the assessment of sustainability readiness in our clients’ businesses as considerations towards how we finance them. As Barramundi Group was already a Best Aquaculture Practices-certified business, we had the confidence to extend a Green Trade facility to them, with terms that were more favourable to their business cycle.
Food security and sustainability – these are two focal topics today.
We see significant potential in this industry, and are well-positioned to connect our clients to such business opportunities in the region.
Andreas von Scholten:
We plan to expand regionally with more than 6,000 hectares in the waters off Brunei.
When we announced we were going to Brunei, UOB was the first to say, “Okay we also have a branch in Brunei. Let's support you on that.”
So now our relationship goes beyond borders as well.
This allows us to bring healthy, delicious Barramundi to even more diners around the world.