[INTERVIEW] A Look at Sustainable Fishmeal Alternatives - World Nutrition Forum 2016

Dr. Åshild Krogdahl, Norwegian University of Life SciencesDuring the BIOMIN World Nutrition Forum 2016 in Vancouver, Canada, last week, Dr. Krogdahl spoke about the fishmeal dilemma and gave an overview of some of the most promising sustainable fishmeal alternatives available.

[Feedinfo News Service] Dr. Krogdahl, a fishmeal replacer producer recently told us that when an aquaculture company looks at any fishmeal substitute, beyond the initial digestibility and growth checks, it needs to ask itself a few questions: Does the product scale and does it compete directly with the human food chain? Would you agree with this comment?

[Åshild Krogdahl] Yes, many of the most serious and sophisticated actors within the aquaculture industry strive to use feed resources in a sustainable way for the benefit of their own business, for the aquaculture industry and the world as a whole. This includes avoiding over-use of resources which might also be used as human food. Standards and regulations are in place in several countries, and food producers often demand certification guaranteeing sustainable production along the whole production chain. The increased use of such certificates for feed ingredients drives the industry toward more resource-efficient and environmental-friendly production. It is a challenge, however, that most nutrient sources suitable for fish are, in principle, also good for humans.

[Feedinfo News Service] Which novel marine and plant nutrient sources used as fishmeal substitutes do you consider promising?

[Åshild Krogdahl] With the rapid increase in fish and shrimp cultivation, I think in the future we will see most of the ingredients considered novel today - of marine, plant, microbial or other sources - as ingredients in fish feed. However, firstly, we should make sure that fish catches not suitable for human consumption, including fish offal and bycatches, are processed the best possible way for use as aquaculture feed ingredients. The feed industry should strive to reach optimal use of the nutritionally unique marine resources. Novel marine ingredients such as krill, are expensive to harvest and also valuable nutrient sources for humans, in particular the lipid fraction. Therefore, only the by-products from these resources will be available for the aquaculture industry, supposedly in limited amounts.

Regarding novel nutrient resources from the plant kingdom, I think we will see the feed industry, as it does today, mix the available ingredients, novel as well as the well-known, to reach an optimal balance between nutrients and anti-nutrients, price and economy. Plant materials not previously used as important nutrient sources for animal products, such as wood and waste from plant production, are under exploitation for use as nutrient sources for animals by aid of microorganisms. The nutritional value of such products is promising, but the economic aspects are challenging. However, in light of the foreseen increase in demand for food, we will be forced to use new resources and to recycle resources already in use, much more efficiently.

An intriguing opportunity is upgrading waste that accumulates along the whole food chain, not just at the end of the line, into useful feed ingredients by use of insects. Insects are nature’s own, highly efficient machinery for use and recycling of organic material, which we should take advantage of this to the fullest. Many insects at larvae stage have a nutrient composition which matches that required by fish.

Macroalgae and other plants growing in waters around the world also represent underused nutrient resources with great potentials for exploitation. Harvesting seaweed will be a way to reclaim some of the enormous resources we currently waste into the ocean. Insects and microorganisms may be used to convert these water plants into useful ingredients for aquaculture feeds. I think insects and microorganisms will become important ingredients in future fish feeds.

[Feedinfo News Service] Globally, how popular is the use of non-ruminant processed animal proteins (PAPs) in aquafeed today?

[Åshild Krogdahl] The popularity varies greatly around the globe from no acceptance in e.g. Norway, to very frequent use, e.g. in Chile. The history of contamination of animal products with prions causing mad cow disease which also was transmitted to feline animals and humans in the late 1980s still makes use of PAPs very limited in Europe. In 2013, the EU lifted the complete ban on PAP use in animal feeds, now allowing use of non-ruminant PAPs in feed for aquaculture. The use is, however, still very limited; not least due to critical media focus.

An additional challenge for use of PAPs is the highly variable composition and nutrient availability, in particular for poultry by-products. High standards must be employed regarding production, storage, processing, distribution and tracing of such products for use as nutritious and safe feed ingredients in fish feed.

[Feedinfo News Service] How do you see feed additive companies such as BIOMIN contributing to the quest for sustainable alternatives to fishmeal feeding?

[Åshild Krogdahl] Novel feed ingredients do not have the same components as fishmeal products, and there are positive and negative aspects related to these differences. I expect that feed additives from companies such as BIOMIN will be important for optimizing of feeds based on plant and other novel feed ingredients. Also, the great efforts to increase growth rate through breeding programs and manipulation of the environmental conditions of fish may result in increased nutrient requirements which may be fulfilled only by use of feed additives.

This interview was first published on www.feedinfo.com.