By Suzi Dominy*
Two announcements in recent weeks had the aquaculture feed sector taking notice: the first was that BioMar and Tongwei had joined forces to produce fish feed in China, and the second was Cargill’s expansion into salmon and shrimp feed.
On August 18, BioMar, signed a joint venture agreement with one of the world’s largest feed companies, Tongwei, for an aquafeed company, to supply high performance feed for high value fish species. The first feed plant, with a capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes, will be located in eastern China.
“Our target is to start production next year, taking advantage of the joint experiences of BioMar and Tongwei in plant design and construction. In the meantime we will start offering imported BioMar diets to the Chinese market”, explained BioMar CEO Carlos Diaz.
The BioMar-Tongwei JV plans to use experience from this first project to expand with several production units across China in the coming years.
In early July, Agribusiness giant, Cargill announced a $30 million joint venture with Naturisa to build a shrimp feed facility in Ecuador. In August, Cargill announced its entry into the salmon market with the acquisition of EWOS for 1.35 billion euros. The deal is expected to close before the end of the calendar year, subject to regulatory approvals. As part of the transaction, Cargill will acquire seven feed manufacturing facilities; three in Norway, and one each in Chile, Canada, Scotland and Vietnam, as well as two state-of-the-art R&D centers located in Norway and Chile. EWOS produces more than 1.2 million metric tons of salmon feed for the biggest salmon producers in the world.
The acquisition adds to Cargill’s existing aquaculture capabilities in Mexico, Central America, China, United States, Southeast Asia, India, and Ecuador, to which EWOS is expected to contribute complementary expertise and leadership. With this investment, the company will continue to leverage its global research and development capabilities, which includes 15 R&D and Technology Application facilities around the world.
“With the need for protein expected to grow by 70 percent worldwide by 2050, farmed fish and shrimp offers one solution to meeting this demand, and Cargill intends to play a major role in this growing and important market,” said Sarena Lin, president of Cargill’s Feed & Nutrition business.
Sustainability is more than just a buzz word for aquafeed
For the first time, the BioMar Group has published a global report on sustainability this year, which outlines the company’s targets and shows its commitment over the years to developing sustainable and responsible solutions throughout its activities.
BioMar has been active in the development of the ASC standards for salmon and trout, and in the development of the IFFO RS standard, and actively collaborates with customers, suppliers, NGOs and other stakeholders in relation to sustainable supply.
“An essential part of our commitment is to minimize sustainability risks and support initiatives towards increased sustainability throughout the aquaculture value chain. We recognize that what we do in our operations, the performance of our products, and how we source our raw materials, all affect our customers’ options to improve the sustainability of their operations,” explained Carlos Diaz, CEO of the BioMar Group.
“Aquaculture will become one of the most important elements in establishing sufficient food production (in the future) and we have a great responsibility to ensure it happens in a sustainable way. Aquaculture must become a pioneering model for sustainable food production,” he said.
He emphasized that the increasingly complex diets used in aquaculture allow the industry to grow and contribute to an improved sustainability profile, but also throw open challenges, as new ingredients must all be evaluated in terms of sustainability. “It does not help if we replace scarce marine resources with ingredients that lead to deforestation. We need to make choices that do not just change the problem.”
BioMar has set ambitious targets for itself, such as a reduction of CO2-emission from production by 20 % per ton of feed produced. However, Diaz pointed out, the largest environmental impact comes from the production of the feed ingredients, such as through the consumption of water or the utilization of scarce resources.
EWOS too has published a sustainability report, in which the company revealed that a quarter of its feed now comes from fisheries by-products.
“When we compare data over time, we see that we are making progress. EWOS have become better at using by-products from the food industry, such as trimmings from fish processing. In 2014 25% of EWOS Group’s marine ingredients were trimmings. In this area we are actively working together with suppliers to encourage the industry to avoid waste and improve utilization of by-products”, said director of sustainability and quality management, Karl Tore Mæland.
The report acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges of sustainability in the feed business is related to the traceability of raw materials, ensuring they are safe and responsibly sourced in terms of both environmental impact and the social dimension. It uses GRI guidelines to examine a broad set of indicators, from raw material use to training.
“Greenhouse gas emissions went down by 2% compared to 2013 and we are continuously looking for further improvements in this area,” he added.
The first draft of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)’s Responsible Feed Standard has been made available for public consultation. The standard sets requirements that reflect industry best practice and develops the consensus needed to improve the environmental performance of key feed ingredients. Although the document covers the ingredients used to manufacture compound feed, an obvious feature of the draft standard is that the vast majority of the criteria refer to ingredients from marine sources e.g. fishmeal and fish oil. The criteria for land based ingredients, whether vegetable or animal, are very brief in comparison. This is perhaps surprising given that the marine sourced raw materials are the minority of the formulation, typically 10-15% by weight. The ASC Responsible Feed Standard will go live in the first half of 2016 and will be available globally for anyone who wants to use it.
Meanwhile, GLOBALG.A.P. launched the Responsible Operations Standard (ROS) Add-on for Compound Feed Manufacturing V1, which aims to improve the sustainability practices of feed mills producing sustainable compound feed for aquaculture and livestock. The module has strong commitment and support from the Norwegian aquaculture compound feed industry, the standard setting body said.
The Standard covers: the reduction of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; the reduction of water use; strategies to avoid waste and effluents; responsible sourcing of agricultural and marine feed materials; product declarations on feed efficiency, environmental impacts, and GMO content; mass balances for specific claims on sustainability attributes of feed materials and the promotion of social engagement with the local community.
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.