BlueNalu, Nutreco enter strategic partnership

Published on
January 16, 2020

Cellular aquaculture firm BlueNalu announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Nutreco, Dutch provider of aquafeed and the paren­t company of Skretting.

The two companies, according to a release from BlueNalu, formalized an agreement that “builds upon BlueNalu’s platform technology for production of cell-based seafood products from a wide variety of species.” Nutreco is bringing its expertise in fish nutrition, as well as its raw materials and ingredient procurement expertise, to the partnership as well.

"The partnership with Nutreco is another significant milestone for BlueNalu, which will enable our team to accelerate our journey toward commercialization, while also securing a global supply chain partner,” BlueNalu CEO Lou Cooperhouse said in the release. “We expect this will provide significant value to our company, as it is our objective to introduce our seafood products in a test market during the next two years, and launch our products in several global markets by the end of this decade."

BlueNalu launched in 2018 and is working to develop seafood products – including finfish, crustaceans, and mollusks – using cell-based production; literally growing fillets and other products from cell cultures. The company completely unveiled its plans to commercialize cell-based production in five to seven years.

Cooperhouse told SeafoodSource that a partnership with another company has been planned for awhile.

“As the company develops its strategy, it was really about identifying partners that could help us grow,” he said. BlueNalu researched various companies in the aquafeed sector for three to six months, before deciding to go with Nutreco. “Our first connection happened at a conference over a year ago.”

After deciding on the partnership, the next step was formalizing how the two companies work together – what skillsets they had and what needs each company foresaw.

“This is really a partnership in the true sense,” Chris Dammann, Chief Technology Officer for BlueNalu, told SeafoodSource. Nutreco, he added, is an expert at formulating cost-effective feed that provides the nutrients a fish needs to meet the goals of the aquaculture operation growing them.

“Skretting, on their side, they have accumulated a lot of knowledge about feeding fish, and growing fish that taste good,” Dammann said.

While BlueNalu does not plan to target salmon as a species for development, Skretting’s knowledge gained from salmon and other species still helps BlueNalu.

“Most of the insights that have been gained about nutrition are transferable to other species,” Dammann said. The challenges faced by traditional aquaculture are very different than in cell culture. Where the nutrition needs of a fish involves the health of things like scales, gills, and digestive systems, a cell culture only has muscle cells.

“In some cases, its simpler, and in other cases, it’s more difficult,” Dammann said.

The company initially plans to target valuable species that have supply issues, or that may not be sustainable.

“What we’ve been able to develop at BlueNalu is a platform technology that allows us to do a broad array of species,” Cooperhouse said. “We’re being strategic and thoughtful on the fish we are targeting.”

Nutreco, as well, stated the partnership aligns well with the company’s sustainability goals.

"Since the global demand for protein is increasing, we need to provide protein from a variety of sources, including traditional aquaculture farming as well as new innovative solutions,” Nutreco CEO Rob Koremans said. “Nutreco’s strategic partnership with BlueNalu is very exciting as it opens the opportunity to up-scale real seafood production in a highly sustainable way."

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