Aquaculture breakthrough: Fishmeal-free salmon feeds come to market

Aquafeed technology company Skretting has introduced a new line of salmon feeds to the market formulated without the use of fishmeal.

Skretting claims the "breakthrough" feed products, which bear the brand name MicroBalance FLX, perform similarly in fish growth and health when compared to feeds that utilize fishmeal. Detailed evidence from Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre (ARC) helped to inform the MicroBalance feeds, the company said in a press release.

The company's new product enables "the available responsibly sourced fishmeal resource to go much further than in the past, and thereby increasing the sustainability credentials of salmon production globally,” the company said.

“This breakthrough in raw material flexibility gives us the ability to provide a significant contribution to feeding the global population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050,” said José Villalon, corporate sustainability director for Nutreco, Skretting’s parent company. Villalon is also former vice president and managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s aquaculture program.

Based in Stavanger, Norway, Skretting ARC has been exploring the potential for alternative raw materials to replace traditional feed components for 25 years, it said. After identifying key micronutrients in the fishmeal profile that are essential to fish in the early 2000s, Skretting researchers were able to eventually craft the MicroBalance concept – what the company is calling the “final piece of the fishmeal puzzle.”

“Through our research, we have detailed evidence proving salmonids can be fed with feeds that are devoid of fishmeal. This is very important knowledge that we will utilize to give us even more flexibility with regards to the composition of our commercial feeds,” said Dr. Leo Nankervis, Team Leader Salmonid Nutrition at Skretting ARC.

Nankervis explained further: “There is a finite amount of fishmeal available in the market. Therefore, in order for aquaculture to expand to offer a genuinely viable solution to the challenge of feeding a fast growing global population, it is essential that the fishmeal resource is used in the most efficient ways possible. Fishmeal availability will not limit the further expansion of the salmon farming industry. While fishmeal is an extremely useful ingredient that provides highly digestible protein, minerals and trace elements, with this knowledge it essentially becomes just like any other raw material; it is interchangeable and can be formulated into feeds at varying levels depending on specific nutrient requirements, customer needs as well as prices and availability.”

While Skretting now has the ability to create fishmeal-free feeds, that doesn’t mean all of its products will eliminate fishmeal, said Sissel Susort, Skretting’s global product manager of grower feeds.

“The fact that we can do it is the key point," Susort said. "We will work with our customers when and if they decide to use MicroBalance FLX feeds. The value of this knowledge will increase if fishmeal availability decreases in the future."

“Fishmeal is a natural and well-balanced source of high-quality protein,” added Trygve Berg Lea, Skretting's sustainability manager. “As an ingredient in aquaculture feed, fishmeal carries large quantities of energy per unit weight and is an excellent source of protein, lipids (oils), minerals and vitamins.”



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