Forrest and his family office have increased their stake in Huon, which is traded in Sydney, from 7.3% to 18.5%, according to a regulatory document released on Wednesday. Forrest said in an interview that the investment highlights the progress Hon has made in improving environmental practices in an industry with a “bad” reputation.
The stake increase may challenge JBS’s plan to acquire Huon as a way to enter the fish market. The beef giant announced a $314 million deal last week, saying it has the support of a majority of shareholders and the deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, after approval by Australian officials.
“We’re always happy to continue investing in Huon,” Forrest told Bloomberg News. “When JBS joined, I was quick to insist, because we know JBS – because we’re in the cattle industry.”
Known as the billionaire founding billionaire of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals, Forrest has become increasingly active in the agribusiness in recent years, having bought Harvey Beef, one of Western Australia’s largest meat processors.
. With a PhD in marine sciences, the entrepreneur has also made a foray into aquaculture with last year’s acquisition of oyster farming operations in Albany, Western Australia, focusing on ocean conservation through his foundation, and tackling issues such as fishing for predatory fish and plastic pollution.
Forrest wants JBS to commit to improving environmental and animal standards, both in salmon farming and in large-scale meat operations. In a statement issued by his family office Tattarang, he highlighted the steps the new Huon administration must take in pursuit of sustainable salmon farming practices.
This includes substituting fish for fishmeal, producing completely carbon-neutral production and enforcing key animal welfare standards and practices, according to the statement.
No pain, no fear
“The food industry is about more than just making money,” Forrest said by phone. “If your highest priority isn’t animal welfare, ‘no pain, no fear’ or matching top priorities with the environment, we challenge you to do so,” he said, adding that these considerations are not mentioned on the 138 pages. Acquisition agreement document.
JBS Australia CEO Brent Eastwood responded to Forrest’s investment in Huon, saying the company shares the Tattarang Fund’s view that “good business should also be good for the environment”. Eastwood said JBS will provide details of its commitment to animal welfare and environmental sustainability to all Huon shareholders when the transaction documents are issued.
Forrest said that one of the problems with fish farming today is that it consumes more fish than it produces.
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