Aquaculture feed was the strongest first half performer for UK listed Benchmark Holdings, after the company continues to restructure its way out of 2019’s significant losses. The Sheffield-based group now consists of three divisions – Advanced Nutrition, Genetics and Animal Health.

Benchmark has reported a group operating loss of £4.6 million on revenues of £59.5m in the six months to March 31st 2021, compared to an operating loss of £3.9m on restated sales of £56.2m in H1 2020. The company says that adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations rose by 3% to £7.9m (+13% in constant currency).

The Advanced Nutrition aquaculture feed division made earnings of £6.2m on sales of £35m ( £3.4m and £31.3m in H1 2020). Benchmark says this reflects enhanced commercial effort and focus over the last year, as well as improvement in certain of its shrimp markets as lockdowns ease. The company believes it can maintain and strengthen this momentum.

The Genetics segment returned earnings of £6m on sales of £22.1m, down from the prior H1’s £8.6m and £22.5m. The fall is due to expected fluctuations in the salmon egg order profile in Q2 and a lower contribution from the movement in fair value of biological assets. Revenues are due to improve over the second half, as Benchmark wins new contracts with selected clients in the emerging land-based salmon sector, establishing a leading position in that market.

The Health division was streamlined last year and now derive primarily from sales of its Salmosan sea lice treatment. Revenues were down year-on year following the previous year’s lift from stockpiling in certain high margin markets driven by the uncertainty of Covid-19 at that time. The business continues to invest in the commercialisation of its promising BMK08 and CleanTreat seal lice treatments.

The Group has implemented a simplified corporate structure as it integrates towards a “One Benchmark” organisation, with the co-location of Genetics and Health activities in Norway and Chile. It is changing the company culture from an R&D centric to more commercially focused basis.

“As a focused aquaculture biotechnology company and proactive industry leader, Benchmark is well positioned to play an important role, helping to improve sustainability across the aquaculture value chain from genetics to grow-out and the quality of the end product,” it states.