Cargill Aqua Nutrition sustainable feed supply on the increase

Published on
July 16, 2018

The World Bank Report “FISH TO 2030 Prospects for Fisheries and Aquaculture” demonstrates a need for 78.6 million MT of aquaculture production in 2020 and 93.6 million MT in 2030. With current production of around 76.6 million MT worldwide, the increase will provide a challenge for feed companies if they are to fulfill sustainability commitments.

Cargill Aqua Nutrition sustainability manager Dave Robb believes his company can be a big contributor to that increase in production, while at the same time keeping its commitment to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and has made clear commitments towards climate change, deforestation and ocean health.

CQN’s latest sustainability report shows a production of nearly 1.5 million metric tons (MT) of aquaculture feed in 2017, giving the company a 3.5 percent share of the global market. 

CQN’s feed range encompasses 30 different warm- and cold-water species, but the majority was produced for salmonids – 985,000 MT – and around one-third for shrimp and tilapia – 506,000 MT. 

CQN’s salmon feed is produced in Norway, Scotland, Canada, and Chile; and its warm-water feed is made in China, Ecuador, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. Facilities in the U.S.A. and India have Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification and those in Thailand and Vietnam are on track to attain BAP certification later this year, according to the company. A growing proportion of feed is sold under the EWOS brand, which CQN took over in 2013. 

By 2020, CQN will reduce relative greenhouse gas emissions, only source soy products from supply chains that have European Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) benchmarked certifications, only source palm oil products certified to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or equivalent, and only source marine ingredients from IFFO RS certified factories, according to Robb. By 2025, only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified marine ingredients will be used. 

In 2017, 45 percent of CQN’s source fisheries were either in possession of MSC certification or working towards it and a large percentage of marine ingredients bore IFFO RS certification, according to the CQN sustainability report.

Einar Wathne, president of Cargill Aqua Nutrition, reported that 2017 was a milestone for the company, with almost all of its 700 raw material suppliers signing up to a supplier code of conduct. The code sets out CQN’s expectations of compliance related to key aspects of the environmental and social impacts of suppliers’ businesses. 

“Human rights throughout the supply chain are particularly important to us and we engage with our suppliers to ensure they share our focus and perspective, as well as getting involved in initiatives such as the Seafood Task Force, which is helping to address specific concerns in local fisheries in Thailand.” Wathne said. 

Over the past few years, CQN has concentrated on increasing the basket of raw materials available for incorporating into fish feed and has increased its use of byproducts. Currently, nearly 30 percent of the raw materials used to make feeds are byproducts from agricultural, industry, or fishery processes making food for direct human consumption. 

Research to incorporate novel ingredients into feed is playing an increasingly important role, and CQN has worked with a supplier to develop a source of algal oil that is currently supplying 20 percent of the EPA and DHA in feed for several customers, replacing 330 MT of fish oil. 

One of the most exciting developments is Cargill’s ongoing work on genetically modified canola that is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA). The company considers this development to be a sustainability game-changer. 

“Trials with Atlantic salmon in Chile show that the fish store EPA and DHA from these oils as they would from fish oil,” Robb said. “We are undertaking further tests and hope to get commercial licenses in 2020.”

Work is also continuing with Calysta's FeedKind protein, which derives from the fermentation of methane gas. This has been tested in feeds under different conditions but is not yet available commercially. 

“Insect meal is another ingredient we are trialling this year following changes in E.U. and Canadian laws to permit their use, and we are encouraging collaboration through the value chain to make this novel raw material viable,” Robb said.

With fish health the single largest challenge to fish farmers, CQN is expanding its functional feed portfolio for all species, following highly positive results with salmon. Functional feeds enable farmers to reduce reliance on medications, including antibiotics.

Robb explained that sustainability is not just about marine ingredients, but also about energy, water use, recycling, waste, GHG emissions, ecological and carbon footprints, and mitigation of overall environmental impacts.

“Recycling is also an important aspect of sustainability, particularly of plastic, and we now recycle about 70 percent of our waste, but constantly seek ways to improve on this,” he said.

New technology is playing its part, with breakthroughs such as CQN’s SalmoNIR device that measures body fat percentage and pigment content in live Atlantic salmon, using a near-infrared reflectance probe to take measurements under the fish skin.

“Read-outs are nearly instantaneous, saving time and the cost of laboratory analyses, and avoiding loss of fish. And by linking the SalmoNIR database to nutrition, we can suggest feed adjustments towards harvest to ensure a joint aim of delivering high-quality, healthy, and nutritious seafood to consumers.” Robb said.

Photo courtesy of Global Aquaculture Alliance

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