Cargill highlights functional feed work as consumers up fish consumption

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ KaraGrubis
© GettyImages/ KaraGrubis
As farmed fish becomes increasingly a protein that interests consumers, growing numbers of consumers also are considering how fish may be raised.

Cargill released details of a consumer Feed4Thought survey regarding animal protein consumption and thoughts on aquaculture production on Monday [October 1]. In addition to finding that 44% of consumers surveyed in the US and UK have started choosing to eat more fish in the last five years, 59% of those consumers said “keeping fish healthy”​ is the main job for aquaculture producers.

The interest in supporting or promoting fish health has been a focus for research addressing fish feed, as feed purchasers also have demonstrated interest in fish health, said the Minnesota-based agri-giant. However, in the survey, it did not specify if consumers were speaking about eating wild-caught or farmed fish.

As part of its work on aquaculture feeds, the company has focused on the production of functional feeds to support fish health, said Brian Knudson, strategic marketing and technology director.

“When asked to rank the duties of a company responsibly raising fish, most people in our Feed4Thought survey named keeping fish healthy as the top priority,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “This is a priority for Cargill too since we’re focused on helping our customers and their animals thrive. This focus has led us to add more functional feeds – feeds that help animals meet health challenges – to our portfolio.”

Last year, 13% of total aqua feed sales for the company were functional feeds, he said. For salmon, functional feed sales were about 24%.

A goal of functional feeds is to help producers limit the use of medications and antibiotics in fish production while supporting fish growth, he said. “These include products like the EWOS BACTER diet, which can help protect salmon from bacterial infections and EWOS ROBUST, which reduces sea lice attachment by 30 percent, promotes fish health and strengthens immune response,”​ he added.

Feed additives and fish health

A goal of the Feed4Thought surveys is to provide Cargill Animal Nutrition the chance to examine thoughts on production animals and the related protein supply chain, said Knudson.

As farmed fish have become a main source for seafood consumed, responsible aquaculture is an important area, he said. Demand for protein and fish continues to increase and farmed fish can help meet that interest along with wild-caught fish.

Providing better feed, promoting safer working environments, transparent operations and boosting sustainable growth in aquaculture are ways that the company can support the industry long-term, he said.

In addition to work with functional feeds, Cargill has been focusing on micronutrition technologies in its aquafeeds, including with vitamin and mineral premixes or natural microbials, he said. “Over the last year, we have made significant investments to boost this capability, acquiring global animal health company, Diamond V and entering a strategic partnership with Delacon, the world’s leading maker of plant-based phytogenics,”​ he added.

“Our micro nutrition business is focused on products that work with an animal’s natural biology to improve their overall health and well-being,”​ said Knudson.

Adding phytogenic ingredients to feeds could be a way to improve animal stress tolerance, he said, adding, “They can help make nutrients more digestible, reducing pollution, making feed work harder, and supporting fish and shrimp health – thereby reducing the need for antibiotics.”

Work with functional feeds also may provide a way to help aquaculture producers cut their reliance on medications and antimicrobials, he said. “We invest in research and innovation to reduce the need for antibiotics through better animal husbandry practices and improved feeds that strengthen animal health,”​ he added.

“By using functional feeds, for example, as part of an integrated health management program there is an overall reduction in the dependence on veterinary medication,” ​he said.​ However, he added, there remains a place for the “judicious therapeutic use”​ of animal antibiotics.

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