Leading organizations within Europe’s seafood sector have joined forces to lead a four-year project intended to propagate the “most sustainable-farmed salmon” using novel ingredients sourced circularly with a low carbon footprint.
The Millennial Salmon Project is spearheaded by Nofima, a Norwegian institute for applied research within the fields of fisheries, aquaculture and food research.
With a €1.3 million (US$1.5 million) budget, the Millennial Salmon Project is primarily funded by the Research Council of Norway and made up of key organizations including Cargill, InnovaFeed, Corbion Algae Ingredients, French retail group Auchan and the research company SINTEF Ocean.
“This project is one critical piece to pave the way for a healthier and more sustainable salmon. We are pleased to collaborate with leading organizations across the value chain,” comments Katerina Kousoulaki, project leader and senior scientist at Nofima.
“By joining forces, we are accelerating the innovation in the sector to find new solutions to increase the flexibility in the choice of sustainable raw materials for future fish feed.”
Investigating alternative feed solutions
The UN FAO predicts the world will reach nine billion people by 2050 and with its +5 percent year-over-year production growth, aquaculture is expected to play a critical role in ensuring global food security.
To meet this need, the Millennial Salmon Project is working to provide an integrated solution to salmon farmers that balances the raw materials in the feed basket and provides greater flexibility from the use of finite marine resources and land-demanding resources by 2025.
The project will study two alternative feed ingredients – protein-rich, insect-based feed ProtiNova from InnovaFeed, and algae-based omega-3s, AlgaPrime DHA from Corbion – both of which offer minimal land use.
The study will test the levels that are required to optimize physical and nutritional needs of salmon, discover the practical and functional properties of both alternatives, as well as demonstrate the environmental and societal aspects of the suggested innovations.
SINTEF Ocean will be conducting a life cycle analysis of the resulting Millennial Salmon feed.
“The Millennial salmon will be a healthy product for the consumer, but also a healthier farmed animal, fed with and grown with higher levels of omega-3s derived from microalgae,” states Nofima.
The detrimental cost of salmon
Intensive farming practices by salmon producers have cost the industry almost US$50 billion since 2013, according to data from the researcher Just Economics.
In a report, the social and economic research company emphasized the sustained risks of “unnecessary” salmon mortalities – namely, the destruction to local ecosystems and pressure on wild fish stocks – which are not being accounted for in company reporting and are linked to some of the largest retailers.
With the environmental impact of seafood catch and production in the spotlight, alternatives to marine-caught produce are beginning to turn the tide on industry’s production methods.
Last April, cell-based leader BlueNalu teamed up with two key seafood stakeholders in Asia – Thai Union and Mitsubishi Corporation – to accelerate a market development strategy for cultured seafood in Asia.
In Singapore, Shiok Meats closed its US$12.6 million series A funding round to scale its cultured minced shrimp product for commercialization in 2022.
Before the end of the year, US diners could be served sushi-grade alternative salmon, cultivated from fish cells by Wildtype. The alt-seafood pioneer recently began operations at its new pilot production plant, which will be able to deliver up to 200,000 pounds of product per year.
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