Marlborough's central location has prompted the go-ahead for a high-tech aquaculture feed production plant to be opened in Riverlands by 2015.
Fish feed company Big Nutrition and Blenheim firm Aquaculture Direct have completed a feasibility study of the region, looking at location and transport options, as well as access to raw material for the product.
Aquaculture Direct director Bruce Cardwell said Marlborough's proximity to both suppliers and customers was a major benefit for what would be New Zealand's only fish feed mill.
"Being located fairly centrally in New Zealand, and right on main transport routes [rail, road and sea], Marlborough is an ideal location," he said.
It would supply feed for New Zealand King Salmon farms in Marlborough, as well as other farmed marine species, like hapuka and kingfish, which are farmed in the North Island.
Although he could not confirm who would be supplying the raw ingredients for the feed, Mr Cardwell said most of the fish meal and oil, land based animal protein and oil, vegetable protein meals, starch, vitamins and minerals needed for farmed fish would be sourced within the country.
"We are extremely pleased to be able to source New Zealand ingredients for the fish feed because consumers trust New Zealand food products," he said.
The remainder of the ingredients would be sourced from South America and Australia, the latter being where most of the feed for Marlborough salmon farms currently comes from.
It may also be exported throughout Asia Pacific regions, Mr Cardwell said.
It is estimated around 20 workers will be needed to run the mill, which will have an output capacity of over 70,000 tonne per annum, and room to expand on its two hectare site at the Riverlands Estate.
The project would now move into phase two, "where the project starts to take shape", organising financing, planning, building consents and construction drawings to get the plant ready, Mr Cardwell said.
- The Marlborough Express