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Fishmeal and oil alternatives coming of age

What are the alternatives to fishmeal and oil in aquafeed diets? From February 19 to 21, the F3 Feed Companies Got Talent 2019 event brought together a good representation of the alternative aquafeed value chain, from ingredient suppliers and feed companies, to scientists, analysts and investors, to answer that question.

February 27, 2019


Chair of the F3 Challenge and F3 Judge, Professor Kevin Fitzsimmons, University of Arizona and Dr. Lin Cao, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Stanford University  at the F3 \"Companies Got Talent\" meeting in San Francisco.

What are the alternatives to fishmeal and oil in aquafeed diets? From February 19 to 21, the F3 Feed Companies Got Talent 2019 event brought together a good representation of the alternative aquafeed value chain, from ingredient suppliers and feed companies, to scientists, analysts and investors, to answer that question.

The by-invitation meeting heard from innovative developers of proteins and oils from algae, insects and single cell organisms, and even yeast from trees, alongside more established grain and oilseeds suppliers, all vying for space in the market. At the end of the meeting, the consensus was that with the predicted growth rate of aquaculture and the limit to sustainable forage fisheries, there is room for everyone.

The F3 (Future of Fish Feed) team is a collaboration of scientists, environmentalists and industry leaders sponsored by, among others The University of Arizona, University of Massachusetts Boston, Synbiobeta, Anthropocene Institute, Tides, The Nature Conservancy. Their objective is to help bring these replacement proteins and oils to market. In 2017, the F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge was launched, with Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Co emerging as the winner, being the first to produce100,000 metric tons of verified fish-free feeds. The follow up F3 Fish Oil Challenge, which concludes in September 2019, will award a $100,000 prize to the contestant who develops and sells the most “fish-free” fish oil.

While there is agreement that these alternative products are necessary, as with all disruptive technologies, there are challenges: participants at the meeting told Aquafeed.com that they had poured millions of dollars into research, proof of concept and pilot scale production but getting to commercial scale would take not just millions more in development, but forward-thinking customers. Their customers, of course, require what feed companies demand from all their ingredient suppliers: volume, consistent availability and quality. Of the four companies who have signed up, Veramaris is emerging as the front runner. They have a clear advantage: not only does their algal oil have the fatty acid profile the industry is looking for, but as a DSM and Evonik joint venture, they have the financial resources to reach commercial scale and have an outlet in their partnership with Skretting.

The presence – and backing – of environmental giants at the meeting was clear indication that they count the replacement of fishmeal and oil as an important step in their view of sustainable aquaculture. Since these groups tend to shape the public conversation, their influence will doubtless create greater consumer – and thus feed industry - demand for these products. Regular readers of our newsletter cannot help but to have noticed that the trend is already there, and growing exponentially.

More reading:

Zeroing out the environmental impacts of aquafeed: The Veramaris solution – Aquafeed magazine vol 11 issue 1 2019

Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Co. wins F3 (Fish-Free Feed) prize

Four global competitors enter “Fish-Free” fish oil race

DSM and Evonik establish Veramaris joint venture to produce algal oil

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