Algae-based DHA offers Chilean salmon producer way to boost sustainability

© iStock/pichet

Salmon producer, Ventisqueros, is demonstrating the sustainability bump from using AlgaPrime DHA in the diets of farmed salmon.

The feed used to generate a positive forage fish dependency ratio score was a BioMar salmon feed incorporating the algae-based omega-3 product, said BioMar.

AlgaPrime DHA is being manufactured through a partnership between TerraVia and Bunge, at the companies' joint venture production facility in Brazil.

Walter Rakitsky, senior vice president, emerging business at TerraVia, said it gives feed and fish producers a DHA source not linked to fish oil.

“AlgaPrime DHA will allow the industry to grow responsibly, as demand for new sources of omega-3s increases,” he told FeedNavigator. “Complimentary to ingredients like fish oil and fishmeal that come from small, oily fish, AlgaPrime DHA can ease the industry’s reliance on wild fish capture and reduce dependency on marine fisheries – addressing consumer and retailer demand for responsibility sourced fish.”

The algae-based oil also includes about three times the level of DHA found in fish oil, he said.

Sustainability ratings

Use of the omega-3 product allowed the fishery in Chile to have an industry-low forage fish dependency ratio (FFDR), said BioMar. The facility had an FFDR of 0.5kg using the alternative feed product, down from an industry average of about 1.3kg.

The fishery started using the product as part of feed generated by BioMar last year, and has been raising Pacific salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch or Coho, said the company.

“By achieving this figure, we have become the first 'net fish producers' in the salmon farming industry,” said José Luis Vial, CEO of Ventisqueros. The feed ingredient has allowed the salmon producer to offer a new “value proposition” for its customers, he added.

Wild caught fish and the amount of fish oil and fishmeal that can be produced are limited, said Rakitsky. The pressure put on both has generated interest in sustainable alternatives.

The algae-based product was designed to offer an environmentally responsible source of omega-3 for use in feed, he said. “To maintain levels of omega-3s in farmed salmon and the human diet, sustainable complements to fish oil and fishmeal ingredients are urgently needed to meet soaring consumer demand for healthier and responsibly sourced seafoods without further depleting marine fish stocks,” he added.

“AlgaPrime DHA can help reduce depletion of small marine fish,” he said. “On a DHA basis, one metric ton of AlgaPrime DHA is the equivalent of saving up to 40 metric tons of wild caught fish from our oceans.”

Partnership

The partnership with the salmon facility in Chile started last year, said Rakitsky.

“TerraVia, Bunge and BioMar met with the executive team at Ventisqueros in Chile in August 2016 to introduce the features and benefits of AlgaPrime DHA,” he said. “José Luis Vial, the CEO of Ventisqueros was inspired by the AlgaPrime DHA story and found it fit very nicely with their initiative to produce a new salmon product with unprecedented sustainability benefits.”

Additionally, a partnership on the production side enables the feed ingredient to be produced on a commercial scale, he said.

“The TerraVia and Bunge joint venture facility in Brazil can produce tens of thousands of tons of AlgaPrime DHA – and the product is available now at scale to the aquaculture industry,” said Rakitsky. “The joint venture facility embodies the principles of sustainable production to produce algae-based products with low carbon, water and land use impacts.”

Market expansion

Part of the interest in demonstrating use of a feed including AlgaPrime in Chile was the chance to bring the product to that region, said Rakitsky. The companies have been looking for expansion into several areas including Norway, Chile and the UK.

The goal is to find expansion on three fronts so that: “More farmers may choose to buy feed containing AlgaPrime DHA to improve the sustainability footprint of the feed; fish farmers may choose a feed formula that has a higher amount of algae-based omega-3s in each kilo of feed to enhance the nutritional benefits of the filets; [And] expansion of AlgaPrime DHA into new segments, such as terrestrial animal feeds and pet foods,” explained Rakitsky.

At this point, there has been an increased adoption and commercial distribution of the DHA product, he said. “TerraVia and Bunge have recently expanded their distribution partnership with BioMar, making the product commercially available at scale to salmon farmers and other participants in the aquaculture industry,” he added.

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