Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Co was announced as the winner of the competition on Thursday at the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL 2017 conference in Dublin, Ireland for its tilapia targeted feed.
The competition challenged companies to sell aqua feed that was free of any marine animal meal or oil ingredients as a way to support innovation in feed development, said competition judges Kevin Fitzsimmons and Michael Tlusty.
“The competition was designed to incentivize new innovations and be a real challenge for the aquafeed industry,” they told FeedNavigator.
“We knew going into it that if we launched a contest that allowed fish-based feed ingredients it wouldn’t be a challenge to the industry, but that a fish-free one would, and we were right. Now we see more companies entering the alternative feed market, which is great validation that others also see the value in creating alternatives sources to support industry growth.”
It was a surprise to see the reaction from the environmental community and the interest in alternative ingredients, they said. “Academic colleagues who have conducted research in this field have seen more publicity and industry interest in the last 18 months than the last ten years,” they added.
“We are all very excited and pleased with the results of the contest,” the judges said. “First, the increased visibility and utilization of innovative alternative ingredients gives us great confidence that the aquaculture industry can continue to produce high-quality seafood well into the future. Second, the fact that several environmental NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and the World Bank provided funds and organizational support for the contest demonstrated a change in attitude.”
NGOs that were previously critical of the aquaculture industry have been more receptive of the need for increased aquaculture production, they said. There also has been increasing demand for feeds with alternative ingredients.
“Since we began, nearly all of the major aquafeed companies and farming groups have announced partnerships with various alternative ingredient suppliers to develop low or no fish meal or fish oil diets,” they said. “These companies are aware of the limitations with fishmeal and fish oil supplies and are looking ahead to ensure they have sustainable protein and lipid supplies to make high-quality nutritious diets well into the future.”
Competition details and focus on feed sales
The companies or teams of companies involved in the competition had 16 months to sell as much aqua feed as they could or to reach the 100,000 metric ton sales goal.
“We did expect that companies making feeds for tilapia and carps would have the easiest time eliminating fishmeal and oil from their formulas,” said Fitzsimmons and Tlusty. “Even small percentages of fishmeal and oil in freshwater fish diets add up to large amounts when you consider overall sales volume of these farmed fish, which was a reason we were happy to see these diets were among the winners.”
The winning team sold 84,691 metric tons of its fish-free feed during the competition, the organizers reported. The company currently sells feed in China, Vietnam Iran and Indonesia.
“The most important sustainability issue facing aquaculture is the feed issue,” Chen Dan, Evergreen Feed president, said in a statement. “The global F3 contest is playing a critical role in promoting innovative and sustainable feed ingredients as substitutes to fishmeal and fish oil for the aquaculture industry and releasing the dependence of aquaculture on forage fisheries.”
In second place was the team including Myanmar-based Htoo Thit Co and Austria-based Biomin, which sold 34,600 metric tons, and they were followed by Oryza Organics which sold 1,661 metric tons of feed, the organizers said.
Mention also was made of the work done by the two teams - one involving TwoXSea, Star Milling Co., Alltech and TerraVia - and the other team of Agriprotein and Abagold. Both teams focused their efforts on feeds for carnivorous fish.
The organization has already started work on a second, follow up competition focused more specifically on the use of fish-oil in aqua feed.
“We are continuing to support innovation in alternative feed ingredients through our new contest, the Fish Oil Challenge, another real-world challenge intended to support new technologies in fish oil substitutes for aquafeeds,” said Fitzsimmons and Tlusty.