Landcatch, the Scottish producer of salmon smolts and eggs, has taken a 45 per cent stake in a rival from the United States which is the world's largest producer of rainbow trout eggs.

Dutch-owned Landcatch, with its headquarters in Ormsary, Argyll, and a team of scientists in Stirling, has diversified into a new species in a deal to buy almost half of Seattle-based Troutlodge alongside a strategic expansion agreement.

The two companies say they aim to extend significantly their global share of the Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout markets.

Loading article content

It will mean a strengthening of Landcatch's aquaculture operations with parent Hendrix Genetics, as well as enhanced support and growth for Troutlodge, with all three companies enthusiastic about the opportunities from stronger positioning in world aquaculture.

Landcatch operates four freshwater tank sites in Scotland, producing up to 4.5 million smolts annually, plus a land-based seawater site for brood fish, producing up to 40 million eggs.

It is renowned for its genetic advances and the use of selective breeding to develop strains of salmon which can perform to ever higher levels at every stage of production from eggs to adult fish.

It has also helped develop genomic selection technologies and later this year will make available for sale for the first time salmon eggs with improved resistance to sea lice.

Troutlodge is one of the oldest aquaculture companies in North America with a near 70-year history.

It sells nearly a half billion rainbow trout eggs in over 50 countries and also using genetic technologies to achieve continual improvement in its stock.

It operates 15 hatcheries in the US, Chile and Isle of Man, the latter supplying Europe and the Middle East.

The deal will create a joint venture in Chile to establish an independent Atlantic salmon breeding programme.

This will be backed by genetics research and will aim to capture a substantial market share of salmon eggs in Chile within three to five years.

Troutlodge's existing operation in the South American country will be developed and expanded, and a pedigree coho salmon programme created.

There will also be a genetics support agreement between the three companies.

Landcatch was sold by Glasgow-based Lithgow's to Hendrix Genetics in 2011.

Neil Manchester, managing director of Landcatch, described the move as "a very exciting investment".

He added: "It increases our sustainability by working with such a credible partner, it allows us to become re-established in Atlantic salmon egg production in Chile, and it enables us to pursue a significant expansion strategy with the aim of becoming one of the main global players in salmon and trout."