Industry leader Mowi says the product holds commercial promise
Within the next few years, select Mowi salmon will feast on the food of champions.
The Norwegian salmon farming company is set to begin trials of a marine algal oil produced by Veramaris, a joint venture between DSM and Evonik, after the company took top honors in this year’s F3 Challenge, which challenged competitors to develop and market a fish-free fish oil alternative.
The four challenge contestants sold a combined 850,000 kilograms of “fish-free” oil during the contest, more than 90% of which was sold by the victorious Veramaris. The Dutch aquafeed firm received the $200,000 prize and, as promised, the opportunity to test its product with top salmon producers at Mowi.
“This is a major opportunity for both Mowi and Vermaris,” said Julia Born, global communications manager at Evonik. “For us at Veramaris, it is a breakthrough that market leader Mowi, with its wide network and excellent R&D capabilities, is trialing our natural marine algal oil.”
Mowi had primarily agreed to offer a trial-run of the winning product out of a desire to support the F3 initiative, said Laura Martinez-Rubio, who oversees Mowi’s feed division. However, she said Mowi was eager to gain more insight into the Vermaris product, which she said had real commercial potential.
“It does seem to be a real option to at least partially replace the fish oil in our salmon feeds, bringing part of the EPA and DHA we need,” she said. “The fact that it is a product already available in the market makes it also more attractive for us to test, as it will facilitate near-future implementation if we decide to go that direction.
Martinez-Rubio said Mowi expects to have results from the algal oil trial by the end of 2020.
The Veramaris oil, which contains EPA, DHA omega-3 and ARA (arachidonic acid) was produced at pilot-scale facilities in the U.S. and Slovakia during the contest. In July, Vermaris began full-scale algal oil production at a facility in Blair, Nebraska. According to Veramaris, the facility is capable of meeting 15% of the salmon industry’s demand for omega-3.
Born said Vermaris’ F3 victory shows the importance of taking a “value chain” approach to innovation, which involves building relationships and finding partners to assist in the development of new technologies.
“The key is getting all value chain members to agree to move all at the same time, which will happen when the parties share a common purpose,” she said. “Therefore we invite others to collaborate with us to drive sustainable growth, enable differentiation, and enhance their salmon-brand promise.”