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Skretting to expand Chilean R&D capacity, talks up antibiotic reduction plans

By Jane Byrne

29-Mar-2017
Last updated on 30-Mar-2017 at 10:29 GMT2017-03-30T10:29:55Z

© istock/fpdress
© istock/fpdress

Skretting, Nutreco’s fish feed arm, is establishing a new R&D facility in Chile, while also weighing up RAS systems and raw materials as part of a €6m research capacity expansion project.

Its principal business is global salmon and fish feed for Southern Europe, but Skretting is also represented in three other markets where Nutreco has a presence - the Americas, Asia and Africa.

The Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre (ARC), with facilities in Norway, China, Italy, Japan, Australia, Egypt and Ecuador, is responsible for the R&D activity of the business.

Chilean research campus

Skretting already has a production plant in Pargua in Chile, but now it plans to also open a research facility in that location to address the needs of salmon farmers there. "The plant is expected to open in the first semester of 2018," Marit Husa, global communication manager, Skretting, told us.

The Chilean facility will cover the entire production cycle, and focus on raw materials and challenges that directly affect the local industry.

“In Chile, we recently signed a collaboration agreement with the National Agricultural Research Institute (INIA). An important aspect of this partnership is to generate and transfer knowledge about raw material attributes that are important if they are to be used for fish feed. This will support current and potential suppliers in developing and identifying new feed ingredients.

“Apart from the search for new feed ingredients that will contribute to greater sustainability of the industry, the key challenges in Chile are related to health management and the need to reduce the use of antibiotics.

“Together with other leading partners in Chile, Skretting has started a joint effort to help Chile’s salmon industry to reduce its antibiotic use," said Husa.

Recirculation aquaculture systems

Meanwhile, an upgrade to the Skretting ARC research center at Lerang in Norway is aimed at gaining greater insights into recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS).

Skretting said aquaculture companies worldwide are increasingly looking to extend the use of RAS beyond the hatchery and early life stages to cover entire production cycles.

The company is also ploughing capital into further evaluation of raw materials.

Flagging its full flexibility with regard to fishmeal replacement, it said investment in its R&D capabilities should also allow it to achieve similar results in the near future from its investigations into fish oil alternatives.

Beyond fish oil replacement, Husa said Skretting is constantly seeking alternative and new sources of protein to reduce dependency on certain raw materials. “We regularly use protein that comes from other plants such as sunflower, canola, peas and beans. Although, on a small scale, we also test protein sources that do not directly compete with food for humans - protein from insects, for instance.”

She said its researchers are now starting to evaluate protein derived from yeast, bacteria or fungi for use in fish feed.

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