The whole algae DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) was developed with the needs of the aquaculture industry in mind, with a goal of reducing dependency on limited supply products including fishmeal and fish oil, said the companies.
The DHA levels in the feed ingredient are at about twice the levels of what can be found in fish oil, said Graham Ellis, senior vice president business development and strategic accounts, at TerraVia. It was designed to be included in aquaculture feeds.
“We have been thinking about entering this market for years and working on developing this product for a long time,” he told FeedNavigator. “There is a growing need and we’re excited to offer a sustainable solution.”
Fish oil challenges
The product was designed to meet increasing needs for omega-3s, a common component in products including fish and animal feed, said Ellis. Often the source of the product is wild caught fish, but that only offers a limited supply.
DHA originally comes from microalgae, so the companies used that source material to create AlgaePrime DHA, he said. It offers a traceable and sustainable alternative for inclusion in feed.
“The demand for omega-3s is growing, but the availability of omega-3s from wild caught ocean fish is limited in nature,” he said. “In order to meet the demands of a growing population, we are going to need new solutions and we saw the opportunity to provide one.”
The aquaculture market for DHA or omega-3 ingredients is about $3bn, said the companies. The overall aquaculture industry is growing and is predicted to be a $200bn market by 2020.
The DHA feed ingredient was in development for some time as the aquaculture and fish oil markets have long been of interest to the company, said Ellis. “It expands the long-term joint venture partnership and aligns with a core strategic growth business (food and feed) for both Bunge and TerraVia,” he added.
The two companies built the Solazyme Bunge Oils facility in Brazil to produce microalgae-based ingredients, he said. That operation has been working since 2014 and has the ability to provide a consistent and large amount of the DHA ingredient.
Full-scale production of the feed ingredient was completed at the end of 2015, they added.
Both companies are acting as exclusive distributers for the feed product, they said. However, they also have established a supply agreement with a fish feed supplier, which is set to start using the product in salmonid feed this summer.
Terms of the agreement, including the regional availability, were not disclosed. However, the product is set to be available outside of that announced arrangement, said Ellis.
The product offers a replacement for DHA found in fish oil but not EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) for farmed fish diets.
“While the EPA needs are not in addressed in our current product, they will be met in the formulated feeds,” he said.
Additionally, the product is the first aquaculture item to come out of the ongoing joint venture, he said. Others are anticipated, said Ellis.
“This is the [joint venture’s] first product for the animal nutrition market but we are always working to ensure that our products are as sustainable and efficient as possible,” he said. “We will continue to develop and improve our ingredients in order to meet the growing demands of the industry.”