Work has commenced on a new plant in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing City being built by Calysseo, a joint venture between animal feed additives firm Adisseo and protein innovator Calysta, to produce the FeedKind brand of “sustainable alternative protein.”
Bluestar Adisseo Company and Calysta first announced the joint venture on 20 February, with the explicit goal of providing an exclusive supply of the product to Asian markets. The companies said they believe FeedKind can be a “game-changer” for the aquaculture industry.
FeedKind is a non-animal protein source that Menlo Park, California, U.S.A.-based Calysta has developed to improve feed efficiency and health. The product is made via a "gas fermentation process involving a naturally occurring bacteria" and will come on the market in China in 2022, according to Calysseo. The first phase of the plant will produce 20,000 tons per year, with more capacity to be added in a second phase of construction.
The new venture is aiming to supply aquaculture ventures throughout Asia, which collectively accounts for more than 70 percent of the world’s aquafeed market. No investment figures have been announced. Calysta has already established partnerships with Nofima and with Thai Union to trial the new product. It received a USD 30 million (EUR 26.3 million) investment from venture capital firm BP Ventures in June 2019.
Aiming to supply feed companies, Calysseo is claiming major environmental benefits for FeedKind over traditional fishmeal – 100,000 metric tons (MT) of FeedKind could replace up to 450,000 equivalent MT of wild-caught fish, it claims. Likewise if used to replace soy, the same quantity of FeedKind could free up as much as 535 square kilometers of land and save nine billion liters of water, according to Calysseo.
Adisseo is a leading feed additive company for animal nutrition, and is one of the main subsidiaries of chemicals conglomerate China National BlueStar. Adisseo serves 3,900 customers in 110 different countries through a global distribution network. Adisseo sees the Chongqing groundbreaking as a “landmark moment in the delivery of a disruptive technology,” Adisseo CEO Jean-Marc Dublanc said in a press release.
Calysta COO and Calysseo Executive Director Thomas JG Huot said construction of the plant represents the “culmination of decades of development.” He described the FeedKind product as a “reliable, high-quality alternative protein ingredient using innovative gas fermentation technology” that will “bring extra value to the Asian aquaculture market and a new level of security to the feed supply chain.”
Company communications director Patrick Settelen told SeafoodSource Adisseo’s “growth is based on different businesses: methionine, vitamins, and specialty products.
“On specialties products, we have strong positions in many region in the world and Adisseo strategy for future growth is based on the development of this business, in particular in China,” he said. “Until recently, Adisseo was not really present in the aqua business. The acquisition of Nutriad in 2018 was a first step in our strategy to develop this business, with a range of aqua products and strong market positions in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.”
In 2019, the firm inaugurated a new R&D center in Singapore entirely dedicated to aquaculture.
“Adisseo is investing heavily on aqua business to sustain our growth in this business over the next few years,” Settelen said. “Through this strategic partnership, Adisseo will tackle one of the key challenges faced by the aquaculture industry – to provide high-quality seafood without adding extra pressures to the environment.”
The new plant in Chongqing is further illustration of a trend of state-sector investment in Chinese aquaculture, through state-owned firms. Adisseo’s parent firm is itself owned by the state-owned China National Chemical Corporation Limited (also known as ChinaChem), whose vast distribution network may prove useful opening avenues for the marketing of FeedKind in China.
Alternative feeds have been on the radar of investors like Aqua-Spark, which has invested in Dongen, The Netherlands-based Protix, a producer of insects for fish feed and EnerGaia, which produces spirulina, a type of algae fed to fish, in Bangkok, Thailand.
Chinese aquaculture output topped 50 million MT in 2019, but aquafeed firms predict that while aquaculture production will be flat in coming years, there will be growth in premium species like eels and croaker, according projections by both Coland Holdings Co. and Cargill China, both of which have been increasing output for higher value species like eel and croaker.
The new joint venture in Chongqing appears to gel with official policy, as China’s government has doubled down on its effort to shift the nation’s efforts to higher-quality, lower-polluting operations. Earlier this year, it introduced a plan to open “green” aquaculture government fishery offices across, China has launched a new initiative termed the “Five Actions” campaign aimed at the country’s domestic aquaculture sector. The campaign urges companies to reduce water pollution from aquaculture, reduce antibiotics use, improve genetics and seedlings quality, increase their use of compound feed, and reduce the use of juvenile fish in fishmeal.
However, it remains to be seen if the advent of a more environmentally friendly feed will be embraced by feed firms, or if the stricter enforcement of environmental rules by China will have an impact on demand for traditional fishmeal.
Photo courtesy of Calysta