The Aqunion Story
Aqunion is one of the world’s leading abalone farming businesses – the union of three renowned South African abalone businesses (Roman Bay Sea Farm, Aquafarm Development and SPP Canning). Our operations are headquartered in Hermanus – a coastal town situated on a pristine coastline of the South Coast of South Africa. With a wealth of experience spanning over 20 years and an international customer base. The company offers a full value chain that includes abalone farming, processing, marketing and export of both wild and farmed South African abalone.
The origins of Aqunion can be traced back to 1994 when the first farm was established by André du Plessis – one of the pioneers of abalone farming in South Africa. A trained marine biologist, André had two decades of aquaculture experience, including growing cultured mussels and oysters. He had also travelled extensively in order to increase his knowledge on the subject of abalone farming and gaining invaluable experience from existing operations worldwide. At the time, the chairman of the TerraSan Group shared André’s vision of this potentially budding industry during a time when abalone was in decline due to overfishing. New ways were needed to be explored to preserve this wonderful species. With funding from TerraSan, André finally realised a lifelong dream – to develop his own fish farming business. But it didn’t happen overnight. Living in a caravan on the site, he spent the first few years doing research, perfecting his farming methods and building the business from the ground up. Aquafarm Development was born: one of the very first abalone farms in Southern Africa.
The First Export
Towards the end of the 1990s, the first commercial exports of farmed abalone were made to Hong Kong. Our quest for consistency and quality – as well as André’s humility, courage and innovation – found resonance with customers. From the start, we focussed on building long-term relationships with our customers – some of which still exist decades later.
In 2004, we bought Sea Plant Products, which became the three business units of Roman Bay Sea Farm, Marifeed (Abalone Feed Products) and SPP Canning. An exciting new unit named Diamond Coast Abalone was launched in 2011 to investigate the feasibility of abalone ranching. Aqunion became involved as a shareholder and in 2013 obtained a licence to ranch abalone on 40 kilometres of coastline on the Northern Cape of South Africa.
A New Dawn
In 2013, The TerraSan Group became the sole owner of Roman Bay Sea Farm and SPP Canning, and decided to bring the three companies together under one corporate identity in December 2014 – called Aqunion. This is a name that signifies the union of three successful companies and our clear connection to the water (‘aqua’) that nourishes our business and our products. Today, Aqunion is an industry leader in terms of technological advancement and product development.