DSM targets to be key player in supporting sustainable aquaculture

In a recent interview, Benedict Standen discussed how DSM tools and alternative ingredients can help provide the foundation for the sustainable growth of aquaculture within planetary boundaries.

DSM targets to be key player in supporting sustainable aquaculture
July 6, 2022

Innovative and sustainable solutions to ongoing challenges in the aquaculture industry are critical and DSM is working to overcome these hurdles. The company recently expanded its portfolio offering new services and products to improve the sustainability of aquaculture production. 

We recently spoke with Benedict Standen, head of marketing Aquaculture Global at DSM Animal Nutrition and Health, to discuss how its tools and alternative ingredients can help provide the foundation for the sustainable growth of aquaculture within planetary boundaries.

DSM recently launched Sustell™, an intelligent sustainability service. How can it help aquaculture farmers improve sustainability? Can you tell us a case study? 

DSM has developed Sustell™ together with Blonk Consultants, a recognized independent expert and leader in Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and sustainability performance in food and agriculture. Sustell™ is an intelligent sustainability service that combines the most advanced environmental footprinting calculation tools with expert sustainability, animal production and nutritional knowledge. All of which work to create tailor-made, practical solutions and business development projects that enhance the environmental sustainability and profitability of animal farming.

In launching Sustell™ for aquaculture, DSM partnered with leading salmon producer, Bakkafrost, based in The Faroe Islands. Bakkafrost is the first producer to use the salmon module of Sustell™ and has helped in the introduction of Sustell™ in the sector. By using real-world data from feed production and farming sites, Sustell™ allows Bakkafrost to model and adopt environmental footprint-reducing interventions. It has access to 19 different environmental categories, which provide science-based calculation and analysis for production. Our collaboration with Bakkafrost underpins the sustainability agenda of both companies.  

The benefits of the service also apply to the supply chain. We see actors throughout the seafood value chain giving greater attention to the measurement of their environmental footprints using full environmental life cycle analysis. Feed and seafood producers in particular are recognizing the need to take control of their own data and leverage it in relationships with their supply chain and financial partners. Another interesting application of real on-farm data is eco-labeling of consumer products because it’s widely recognized that regional averages from databases are not sufficient to create genuine opportunities for product differentiation and positioning. It’s about unlocking the value of sustainability for producers as well as consumers.

The reduction of marine ingredients in aquafeeds is part of the sustainable steps the industry is taking and microalgae oil has been a successful alternative. As the volumes of microalgae oil available in the market increase, how does Veramaris face this new era? When do you predict scale would no longer be an issue for the supply of algae oil to aquafeeds?

Not all algal feed ingredients are created equally. We must make the distinction between algal feed ingredients and the availability of sustainable and consistent sources of EPA & DHA omega-3 which is ultimately what the sector needs to grow within planetary boundaries. To date, fish oils have been used in feed formulation because they were the main source for both of these long-chain fatty acids which are important for both fish health as well as the quality and nutritional profile of the products that reach consumers.

Veramaris’ ASC-MSC certified natural marine algal oil has two key differentiators. Firstly, it has both EPA & DHA. Research shows that having both, in addition to ARA, improves the resilience and wellbeing of fish. Secondly, Veramaris is 3.5 times more concentrated than Atlantic fish oil. It is not only of high purity, but consistently delivers the same high levels of EPA & DHA 365 days a year 24/7. This high potency means that one ton of Veramaris algal oil equates to EPA & DHA of up to 66 tons of wild catch fish. And that’s growing, ultimately meaning that we can deliver these benefits while reducing the reliance on marine-derived feed ingredients.

Veramaris is already available at scale, and we are seeing leaders in the industry take the opportunity to claim sustainability leadership credentials as well as improve their fish health which leads to increased productivity and profitability. Today Veramaris algal oil is used to grow salmon, shrimp, trout, steelhead trout, yellowtail, largemouth bass, seabream and seabass, with many more possibilities on the horizon.

DSM has other solutions with an impact on the sustainability of aquaculture production. Can you tell us how your enzymes can tackle these issues? 

DSM has a diverse portfolio that helps tackle sustainability issues, including feed enzymes, gut health, and mycotoxin risk management products, not forgetting of course the vitamin, premix and carotenoid business lines. The portfolio is very much complementary and can be leveraged to improve aquatic animal health and nutrition across the value and production chain. Specifically, feed enzymes can improve the efficient use of natural resources and reduce effluents, specifically phosphorus and nitrogen which are known drivers of biodiversity change. This can also lead to reduced feed costs and more flexible diet formulation options without compromising the feed quality or performance, a benefit that the industry is desperately seeking in these challenging economic times.

What about the new generation of phytase that DSM|Novozymes Alliance recently unveiled? Which are the specific benefits for aquaculture farmers and feed millers? 

HiPhorius™ raises the market standard for phytase technology, using efficient phosphorous utilization to deliver consistent improvements in animal performance. The product is a complete multi-species phytase solution that helps farmers achieve both sustainable and profitable animal protein production.  

It increases phosphorus digestibility, meaning the use of expensive inorganic phosphates can be reduced. It enables producers to expect greater efficiency, thermostability and access to digital services, giving producers opportunities to reduce feed costs. Further, it allows aquafeed producers to apply this next-generation phytase to any feed processing technology, thanks to a range of product forms. Using end-to-end digital services for intelligent phytase nutrition, HiPhorius™ offers more out of less feed, and those efficiency gains also mean more sustainable seafood production.

With the recent acquisition of Biomin and the opening of a new analytical center, the company is also aiming to increase farming sustainability. How will this center support farmers? 

DSM acquired BIOMIN in 2020, which is key to DSM’s longstanding capabilities to support the aquaculture sector. DSM's offering now spans Essential Products (premixes and high-quality vitamins), Performance Solutions + Biomin® and data-driven Precision Services. By complementing one of the most diverse portfolios on the market today with technical service, DSM Animal Nutrition and Health has become a “one-stop-shop” for customers' health and nutrition needs. 

Our ambition is to be a key player in supporting the profitability and sustainability of aquaculture. Specifically, through improving prophylactic animal health, reducing antimicrobial resistance, improving lifetime performance and improving our raw material basket. Equally important, the Analytical Center of Excellence Lab, opened in 2021, adds to the global network of innovation centers that allow DSM to provide expert technical support on nutritional and health topics to our customers in the aquaculture industry.

DSM recently announced its commitment to enable a double-digit on-farm reduction of livestock emissions by 2030. What are the main targets? 

The DSM Food System Commitments cover a broader range of related sustainability issues: health for people, health for planet and healthy livelihoods. Part of the health for planet commitment involves enabling sizeable emissions reductions from livestock, specifically: 

  • 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in dairy production.
  • 30% reduction in ammonia emissions from swine farming.
  • 30% reduction in phosphorus emissions from poultry farming.

For aquaculture, we offer a host of tools to help the industry reduce reliance on fishmeal, improve water quality, reduce emissions, reduce the need for antimicrobial treatment and the intelligent sustainability service for salmon.