Its feed supplier, EWOS Scotland, initiated the contact with the Icelandic company which processes roe for export. The Scottish producer said the meal – called Royal - is produced exclusively for it and that it comes from fish waste - carcasses from Icelandic capelin that are IFFO RS responsibly sourced.
“Isfelag, which focuses on pelagic species and has as large percentage of the capelin quota, will cover the fishmeal needs for our 5,000 metric tons of annual salmon production.
Previously we sourced fishmeal from several fisheries. Now we are specifying that are meal comes from only from Isfelag — we consider that having such a direct relationship with a meal supplier constitutes a duty for a responsible fish farmer – we know exactly what is going into our feed,” Nick Joy, brand director, Loch Duart, told FeedNavigator.
The more you specify though, the more you pay in terms of feed costs, acknowledged the brand director. “However, this should not make a difference in the final product price – we don’t always pass higher input costs. And, throughout the years, we have always had pretty stable retail prices, a factor which has supported our feed suppliers’ operations as well,” said Joy.
The Scottish producer’s research and development centers on environmental stewardship, feed and welfare. Along with close partnerships with feed suppliers to develop sustainable sources of marine protein, sustainability informs its whole production approach, said the producer.
The salmon company, which, in the main, is involved in the export business with key markets such as France, the US, the Middle East and Asia, engages in fallowing to combat the issue of the environmental footprint of farming and to break between generations for health and welfare, nor does it allow the use of antibiotics in its farming.
Loch Duart is also involved in encouraging future sustainable feed sources from microalgae to insect protein.
“What we do is show interest, we try to encourage researchers to develop alternatives ingredients – we have dealt with a wide range of partners over the years in this regard. As a small producer, we are often more attractive to the R&D community than large scale salmon farmers as we require smaller quantities of ingredients and we are willing to run restricted field trials,” said Joy.
A lot of investigation is underway globally in the area of fermentation of microalgae, in terms of strain selection to find ones that are rich in EPA or DHA or both, along with extensive trials in various fish species.
And Joy reckons researchers might be able to produce such fish oil substitutes within three years but he doubts there would be sufficient volumes to make it anything beyond a niche product at that stage. “Any talk of availability of commercial volumes of viable microalgae for salmon feed within that timeline is more rhetoric than reality,” he added.