Whole Foods launches unique farmed salmon brand

Published on
January 28, 2016

Whole Foods Market is selling a new Norwegian salmon –one of the only farmed salmons to earn a “Good Alternative” rating from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program – in its stores.

The Austin, Texas-based chain of 431 stores recently began selling fresh and frozen “In the Blue” brand salmon in most of its stores. The fresh fillets are sold in select stores’ fresh seafood departments, while a two-pound frozen In the blue club pack is sold in most Whole Foods’ locations.

The brand is collaboration between Norwegian fish farmers Kvarøy and Selsøyvik, importer Blue Circle Foods, feed supplier BioMar and Whole Foods. BioMar, Blue Circle and Whole Foods developed a farmed fish feed that conserves marine resources and reduces environmental contaminants found in salmon.

“We knew we’d have to make a significant investment of time and budget to create this custom feed for only two farms, but the risk was definitely worth it when we saw the difference this process could make for consumers, the industry and our planet,” said Vidar Gundersen, group sustainability manager for BioMar, adding that the development of the feed was only possible because of Whole Foods’ purchasing commitment.

The new feed has led to the first farmed salmon with a fish-in, fish-out ratio below one-to-one, earning it a “Good Alternative” rating from Seafood Watch, a rare mark for farmed salmon.

Unlike conventional feeds, which are produced with fish caught solely for feed, In the Blue is made with trimmings from wild-caught fish that are already bound for human consumption. The trimmings are pressed into oil that is cleaned to reduce environmental contaminants such as heavy metals and PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls), according to Whole Foods.

“Because environmental contaminants found in farmed fish are predominantly passed through feed ingredients, removing those substances from the oil keeps them out of salmon that end up on dinner plates,” according to a Whole Foods statement.

In the Blue also meets Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Farmed standards. “We have to go through a third party-verified audit with Whole Foods to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to be doing,” Bill Cole, president and co-owner of Blue Circle Foods, told SeafoodSource. Whole Foods’ also sells Blue Circle’s Changing Seas sustainable farmed salmon brand in its stores.

Going forward, BioMar, Blue Circle Foods and Whole Foods Market hope the model created for farmed salmon feed can become common practice, and eventually expand to other species. “The sooner the market will support this kind of growth, the industry and consumers alike can expect this highest quality farmed seafood to become an even more affordable, sustainable protein option,” Whole Foods said.

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