Ocean Harvest Technology trialing seaweed to fight shrimp white spot syndrome

A worker with Ocean Harvest Technology harvesting seaweed

From a tentative start a decade ago, Ocean Harvest Technology has grown into the largest global producer of animal feed ingredients made from seaweed blends.

Ocean Harvest Technology’s OceanFeed blends of brown, green, and red seaweed are in high demand across the aquaculture, bovine, equine, swine, poultry, and pet sectors all over the world, and particularly in Europe and the Americas, according to Ocean Harvest CEO Mark Williams.

“Our focus in the beginning was very much on research and development, looking at polysaccharides and other bioactive compounds in seaweeds and testing their efficacy in various applications," Williams told SeafoodSource. "The researchers found that these were highly beneficial to the microbiome of animals, with trials demonstrating a prebiotic effect to promote gut health.” 

The company has since undertaken more than 30 trials with different species and tailored products, and feedback from producers is positive thus far, Williams said. Besides aiding in digestion, Ocean Harvest seaweed blends can reduce mortality by improving immunity and can help reduce methane emissions and improve feed conversion, he said.

“In the animal world, our additives have been found to be beneficial in helping companies to reduce or remove antibiotics from feed, and that is also our hope for aquaculture species,” Williams said.

OHT’s feed ingredients are produced in the company’s facility in Vietnam, which is supplied by seaweed harvesters and suppliers around the globe.

“We source brown seaweed largely from the North Atlantic and red and green mainly from Southeast Asia, and as the business grows the challenge is to match supply with demand. By the end of the year, we will be taking supplies of seaweed from four new countries,” Williams said.

Containerized product arrives at the factory either as bales of dried leaf, or mechanically dried and ground, depending on the species and origin. Protocol agreements are made with harvesters to ensure that quality is maintained and that sustainable harvesting methods are used. All products received are produced to GMP+ standards, which denotes safe and responsible practice, according to Williams.

“Seaweed may be contaminated with visible impurities such as sand and plastics, so it is important to educate our suppliers to meet our standards. We also test everything when it arrives for invisible impurities, such as heavy metals, before it goes into our manufacturing process,” Williams said. 

Williams said the company is about to embark on a trial using the company’s products for shrimp being raised in farms in Southeast Asia, to ascertain its effectiveness in reducing mortality levels caused by white spot syndrome virus.

The company’s efforts on this front, and on commercial development, R&D, sales, and marketing – and growing inventory levels – are being backed by a recently completed private fundraising round, which followed up a EUR 800,000 (USD 825,000) seed round in 2020 backed by Blue Wire Capital.

“The future is exciting!” Williams said. “The animal feed market is huge, and we have been growing by 40 percent within it, but there is a lot of potential to keep growing. The feed and farming industries are focused on how to be more sustainable, how to move away from synthetic and chemical ingredients, and how to reduce wastage to maximize economic performance. Our R&D data will continue to grow and allow us to make further claims for our product, and those two factors together give us good commercial prospects.”

Photo courtesy of Ocean Harvest Technology  


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