Norwegian Atlantic salmon and Rainbow trout producer, Nordlaks, is trialing the feed - some 360,000 fry will receive the feed containing insect derived protein.
The feed contains insect meal made from the larvae of the black soldier fly (BSF) - an EU-approved commodity, said the feed company.
Skretting said surveys show that Norwegian consumers are more positive about eating salmon that has had insect meal in the feed than their counterparts in other European countries.
Mads Martinsen, director, product development, Skretting Norway, told us that insect meal was included at a rate of 5% of the complete salmon feed, partially replacing fishmeal and soy protein concentrate components in the ration.
“As volumes and availability [of insect meal] increases, we will increase the inclusion levels,” he added.
Insects are an important food for wild salmon, and Skretting sees that insect meal can increase appetite in the fish, said Martinsen. Results from experiments indicate that fish show the same growth performance with feeds using insect meal as with traditional protein sources, he added.
A study conducted under the auspices of the the Norwegian Research Council project, Aquafly, used insect meal from Dutch producer, Protix, to investigate the impact of insect protein on salmon performance.
The researchers concluded that it is possible to add 600 g kg−1 of insect meal in combination with insect oil in the diets of fresh-water Atlantic salmon without any adverse effect on growth performances, feed utilization, apparent digestibility and whole body composition.
The team also found that the BSF protein meal was a good source of highly bioavailable amino acids for Atlantic salmon.
The researchers only noted that the low concentrations of taurine in BSF insect meal and the possible effects this could have on lipid metabolism and deposition.
Scaling up insect production
Skretting, said Martinsen, believes that insect meal will be an important raw material in the future and is helping producers scale up production.
“We will continue to work with suppliers and undertake R&D to further our understanding of insect meal from a nutritional perspective. We will also work to promote insect meal to customers as a new alternative ingredient in fish feeds. Increasing the demand from the market will enable the inclusion of insect meal into the feeds.”
As the global population continues to grow, there is increasing focus on aquaculture to provide the protein to feed the world. A 30m ton projected increase in aquaculture production means there will be a need for an additional 45m tons of raw materials. In a new series, Skretting looks to where those raw materials might come from.
The challenge has been to find manufacturers that can produce enough volume with consistent, good quality, he said. Skretting engaged with over 30 manufacturers, and ended up with a handful of suppliers, he said.
“We have now obtained the raw material at a quality level that we can count on in the future.”
He said, ideally, by 2022 there would be at least five different European suppliers, each producing 20,000 tons of insect meal per year - that is two thirds of the amount of soybean concentrate Skretting Norway uses today.
Ultimately, the company is looking to use ingredients in fish feed that not compete with food for human consumption, said Martinsen.
The feed company is also currently testing the plankton Calanus, again a natural part of the wild salmon diet, he added.
Nordic waters have as much Calanus as the total biomass of all wild fish and sea mammals combined, he said. Skretting is already commencing commercial trials with Calanus. Initial results show that salmon like the taste, he confirmed.
When asked what form is the plankton Calanus incorporated into fish feed, and what are the limitations, if any, around using that raw material in salmon feeds, he said it is added in as a protein fraction.
“The lipid fraction is produced for human consumption. Limitations are availability. Only one company harvesting this resource now. Again, our approach is close collaboration with this company.”