Rick Barrows, a fish nutritionist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Bozeman, Mont., began working on reducing fish meal in feed in 1988, when he worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Kenny Belov and Bill Foss, co-owners of wholesale seafood start up TwoXSea in San Francisco, asked him to create a fish-free formula in 2009.
TwoXSea claims to be the first company to cultivate trout on a vegetarian diet and have invested about $1 million in the project.
“I think we need to learn to better utilize all the nutrients on this earth. I’m worried about my grandchildren not having enough food.” —Rick Barrows
Since designing his first formula for trout, Barrow’s has designed 11 more, including meals for salmon and yellowtail. Species’ protein and energy requirements vary considerably, he says, but vitamin, mineral, and amino acid needs are pretty consistent.
TwoXSea’s feed costs about $1.50 a pound to make, compared with 75¢ for the regular stuff, mainly because of the high price of fish oil substitute DHA.
Foss and Belov say their trout ($7.95 a pound wholesale) has sold out since they started distributing it in 2010, as has the recently introduced tilapia. Their 19-employee company delivers about 200,000 pounds of fish a year and is trying to increase production.
“This is the way the industry is going to go,” says Kevin Fitzsimmons, a University of Arizona environmental science professor who is judging a fish-free feed contest with the Monterey Bay and New England aquariums that began on Nov. 9. “The aquaculture industry is growing so quickly around the world that we’ve got to find alternatives.”
Source: Nick Leiber, Bloomberg. Read the full article here.