New Skretting CEO Bastiaan van Tilburg getting hands-on with first foray into aquaculture industry

"Innovation and sustainability are in the DNA of Skretting, and they are the main areas to accelerate growth."
New Skretting CEO Bastiaan van Tilburg
New Skretting CEO Bastiaan van Tilburg | Photo courtesy of Skretting
6 Min

Bastiaan van Tilburg is new to the CEO role at feed production firm Skretting, having started on 1 June, but after working at Trouw Nutrition – the livestock feed arm of Skretting’s parent company Nutreco – for the past six years and being part of Nutreco’s senior leadership team during that time, he has plenty of experience implementing effective feed strategy.

“If you’re a supplier, you absolutely need to know your customers. So, I'm quite familiar with the high-quality standards required and the needs of the customers which we have to try and solve,” van Tilburg told SeafoodSource.

There are distinct differences, though, between feeding livestock and feeding fish and shrimp, which is why van Tilburg aims to travel extensively throughout Skretting’s global network of operations, customers, and species to learn more about what the seafood industry does differently.

“Granted, there will be a lot of ground to cover, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said. 

The tour for van Tilburg began in Norway, guided by Skretting’s aquaculture innovation team, where he examined some of the company’s latest salmon and shrimp solutions and worked on a salmon farm, getting hands-on experience with many of the company’s day-to-day operational processes.

“It was only for a day, but we were working with the guys there who apply our products. We got a very good understanding of how these farms actually work and what the challenges are. These guys didn’t polish it for us; they gave us the real deal. It was a great experience,” he said.

The time van Tilburg is spending on the ground with colleagues and customers is fueling what he describes as his “growing admiration” for the aquaculture industry, specifically pointing to the “innovative spirit” that exists throughout the sector’s value chain, which he says aligns well with Skretting’s and Nutreco’s own mission of “feeding the future.”

“I think the aquaculture industry is very well-positioned to play a big role there. Working on that farm, things became very real,” he said. “What amazed me, doing the math, was that just three [sites] on a yearly basis produce 2.5 million kilograms of salmon – healthy, high-quality protein. Compared to the resources needed to produce that volume of food on land, the efficiency is fantastic.”

Van Tilburg said Skretting is working hard to separate itself from the competition, mainly through its precision farming concept 360+. This innovative methodology optimizes feeding and production management through shrewd use of analytical software and other technologies. 

Through a package of tools and services, incorporating nutrition, farm-management practices, and technical support such as underwater cameras and sensor equipment, fish and shrimp farmers are able to lower feed conversion rates (FCRs), properly forecast their farms’ performance, and enhance it through analyzing real-time data.

“The potential of this relatively new industry is huge,” van Tilburg said. “It’s about finding the optimum genetic potential of these animals, and there’s so much to gain from continuing to develop a company like ours, with its global presence and expertise, together with its network of research centers in different parts of the world accelerating that development.”

Van Tilburg said he wants Skretting to play a lead role in helping the industry grow toward meeting its full potential.

“That means everywhere in the world having Skretting try to help farmers make their business thrive,” he said. “There are certain areas where I think we need to be leading. Innovation and sustainability are in the DNA of Skretting, and they are the main areas to accelerate that growth.”

The recent launch of Nutreco’s Garden of the Future facility in Thurgau, Switzerland, is a prime example of this effort, he said. The new facility is focused on creating phytotechnology solutions, which when added to feed, have physiological impacts that consistently support the performance, health, and welfare of aquatic and land-farmed animals.

“It’s very encouraging to have something like this in our hands,” he said. “We'll soon have the first products launching from the facility, and in the longer term, there's so much more potential that will come from this area.”

The new facility also helps support Skretting’s further expansion beyond traditional salmon and shrimp production sectors into ...

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