By Suzi Dominy*
Finding alternative sources of EPA and DHA is more relevant than ever
During a round table discussion at the Aquaculture Europe Conference in San Sebastian, Spain, BioMar’s Executive Vice President of Sourcing, Niels Alsted, focused on the quest for finding alternative sources of EPA and DHA.
The recent jump in the price of marine raw materials again underlines the necessity of finding alternative sources of EPA and DHA fatty acids in fish feed, he said. He pointed to four of the possible sources of EPA and DHA, but also stressed that at present, none of these sources are available in sufficient quantities to really make a difference in the market.
As one of the options, he mentioned a better utilization of byproducts from the fishing industry and the implementation of more efficient production processes for fish meal and fish oil. “This could increase both availability and quality of feed ingredients of marine origin”, he said, but added that this will not alone be able to cover the increasing demand for these ingredients.
According to Alsted, one of the most promising technological solutions in the short run is the use of fermentation techniques, where heterotrophic microorganisms produce EPA and DHA based on sugar. However, while this is technically possible, the price is expected to continue to be significantly higher than the present fish oil prices.
As the EPA and DHA, which today are obtained from fish oil, originate from algae, industrial production of these algae can, together with the additional benefit that it binds CO2, seem logical and attractive. “The possibility of extracting EPA and DHA directly from algae produced with just water, CO2, and sun light is indeed a very attractive solution seen from an environmental point of view; unfortunately, it has so far proven to be too costly and difficult to scale up”, Alsted said, and explained that it is not enough to be able to produce 20,000 or maybe 50,000 tons in this way. There is a need to produce hundreds of thousands of tons in order to create a real difference and thus cover the increasing needs for EPA and DHA for human consumption and aquaculture at a global level.
Alsted also talked about the inclusion of the algae gene producing EPA and DHA into plants like rape, soy, or Camelina as the most cost efficient and easily scalable solution. Alsted was well aware that it is controversial for some to use an algae gene in plants, but he also underlined the large regional differences in acceptance and perception of genetically modified organisms: “While there is resistance in some European countries against using genetically modified crops as feed ingredients in aquaculture, the use of genetically modified organisms like soy in aquaculture feed is already the standard in both Asia and America – and also in the production of feed for land animals in Europe – so this last alternative will probably within 5-7 years become one of the ways to produce more of the healthy fatty acids – if not in Europe then at least outside Europe”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, a new video released by the International Fish Meal and Oil Organization (IFFO) tells consumers that while salmon is an excellent source of OMEGA-3s, they need to understand the amounts of EPA and DHA found in salmon and the recommended levels in our diets. The video explains that of EPA and DHA in salmon flesh is directly linked to their diet, which in the wild is rich in fish oil.
Farmed salmon feed used to contain 100% fish oil, rich in EPA and DHA, but the amount of fish oil used in feed is decreasing and is now supplemented with an increasing percentage of vegetable oil, resulting in lower levels of EPA and DHA in salmon. Consumers need to be aware of the varying levels of EPA and DHA in salmon and ensure that they eat enough to reach the recommended intake levels of 250 mg per day, as recommended by the WHO, the video advises.
(You can see the video on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxH43-Xs3R4)
Nutreco reaches conditional agreement to sell
In October, the world’s largest feed company, Nutreco, announced it had conditionally agreed to a USD$3.4 billion buyout by family-owned Dutch investment firm, SHV. For the aquaculture sector, the main interest was what would happen to Nutreco’s aquafeed business, Skretting. The answer from Nutreco suggested there would be no discernable change: Knut Nesse, CEO of Nutreco, gave assurances that SHV would not break up Nutreco’s group or its business units and that Nutreco would retain its corporate structure.
All looked set to proceed smoothly, until November, when Cargill put in a higher bid. However, Cargill said it was exploring a structured transaction together with private equity firm Permira. This would result in a break up of Nutreco: Cargill would acquire the Fish Feed business (Skretting) and Permira would acquire the Animal Nutrition business. Nutreco rejected Cargill’s offer on the grounds that its intention of breaking up the Nutreco business was fundamentally inconsistent with Nutreco’s long-term growth strategy for the business as a whole. As a result, SHV increased its offer and the new deal looks set to go ahead.
EWOS sees 5.6% increase in sales, despite physical pellet quality
issues in Norway
Aquafeed producer, EWOS reported a 46.6 thousand tons increase in sales volumes, to 875.7 thousand tons for the first nine months of 2014. Summarizing the company’s 2014 interim report, Einar Wathne, CEO of EWOS Group, said operating revenues increased by 5.9% year on year, to NOK 8,319.2 million for the first nine months in 2014. Strong growth was experienced during the first half of 2014 in all markets except Chile, while the continued growth in Canada and Vietnam during the third quarter was offset mainly by reduced volumes in Norway due to market share losses, temporary shifts in volume due to physical quality problems and reduced demand caused by high sea temperatures during the summer leading to reduced feeding as well as early harvesting because of sea lice in parts of the country
EWOS experienced unprecedented physical pellet quality challenges in Norway during the third quarter that contributed to higher raw material and operating costs than anticipated.
“We have resolved the key issues, and the physical quality has improved since the end of August. We are investing significant time and resources to ensure we improve our physical quality procedures as well as raw material and inventory controls. Despite these challenges, we continue to see good progress with our new Rapid performance feed in Norway”, Wathne said .
Indonesia’s aquafeed production capacity to grow by 9% in 2015
Three aquafeed companies are set to build feedmills in 2015. The Indonesian Feed Millers Association (GPMT) identified CJ in East Java, Matahari Sakti in Banten and Sinta Prima Feedmill in West Sumatra as companies with plans to build mills with capacities of 5, 000 tons/month. This will increase national aquafeed capacity to two million tons, a growth of nine percent. Currently only around 60-70% of the total installed capacity is utilized. Of the 66 members of GPMT, 15 feed millers produce aquafeeds.
Canada - University of Saskatchewan Feed Research Centre
A grand opening ceremony in October, marked the inauguration of what is already touted as one of the world’s leading feed research facilities.
First conceptualized in 2009, the Canadian Feed Research Center (CFRC) in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, came to fruition through a cooperative effort that included the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and Western Diversification, which made contributions to build the CAD$13.85 million Center. Cargill’s animal nutrition business in Western Canada was recognized during the ceremony for its CAD$2.46 million contribution.
The CFRC will research, develop and commercialize new and better high-value terrestrial and aquatic animal feeds from low-value crops and co-products from bioprocessing and biofuels industries.
The CFRC offers a broad range of research scale capabilities – from laboratory, to pilot plant, to industry-scale research.
The 15,650 ft2 of renovated Innovation Center space will employ four to eight research and development professionals. Both graduate and undergraduate students will participate in research and gain advanced training for careers in the feed and livestock sectors.
The CFRC has stand-alone equipment and two scales of operating lines: a 2 tons/hr. Pilot Scale Line and an Industrial Scale Line (ISL) that operates at ~ 20 tons/hr.
Single cell protein for aquafeed lands innovation award
SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and its subsidiary SP Processum were recognized by an EARTO Innovation Prize 2014 for the project GreenFeed, in which a method to produce single cell proteins from a residual stream from the forestry industry has been developed for use in aquafeed.
“We started this work a few years ago and used a residual stream from the Domsjö mill for production of single cell proteins on laboratory scale. Since then we have refined the technology on pilot scale and we have also verified the process on a large scale in the SP Biorefinery Demo Plant in Örnsköldsvik - and it proved to work very well,” Björn Alriksson, project leader at SP Processum said.
“Our partners from Iceland, Matis and Saebyli, have produced fish feed containing our single cell protein and have carried out successful feeding trials on tilapia. The results showed an equal or even better growth of the fish when compared to a fishmeal-based control feed. The next step is to proceed with large scale tests as well as development of a business concept for this new product.”
“We have built a very good infrastructure here in Örnsköldsvik with different pilot equipment for development projects like this one,” says Clas Engström, CEO at SP Processum. ”We have been able to run efficient pilot and demo scale trials together with relevant industrial partners along the whole value chain. As SP also has a demonstration plant for upscaling of industrial biotechnology processes we have been able to verify the process almost on an industrial scale. I really look forward to eventually eating fish fed with fish feed based on our technology.”
Suzi Dominy is the founding editor and publisher of aquafeed.com. She brings 25 years of experience in professional feed industry journalism and publishing. Before starting this company, she was co-publisher of the agri-food division of a major UK-based company, and editor of their major international feed magazine for 13 years.