Veramaris looks to grow global market reach as algae oil facility opens

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© Veramaris
© Veramaris

Related tags Fish oil Algae

Opening of new US$200m Veramaris facility brings industrial scale volumes of algal oil for fish feed and pet food sector.

Veramaris' new omega-3 fatty acid algal oil production plant in Blair, Nebraska went live on Wednesday [July 10].

Veramaris is a 50:50 joint venture between Royal DSM and Evonik that formally launched 2018.

Prior to the opening of this factory, the JV has been supplying omega-3 algal oil from its two pilot facilities in the US and Slovakia.

Karim Kurmaly, Veramaris CEO, told us: Now that we’ve got an industrial-scale facility, we’re able to penetrate deeper into the aquaculture segment and not only into salmon, but also other marine fish like sea bass, seabream and shrimp; we can also go deeper into the pet food sector.”

The additional production volume also is expected to support an expansion into different regions, he said.

“We’ve been primarily focused on Norway, but with this sort of volume we’re able to also go beyond into Chile, Tasmania, etc," ​added the CEO.

Growing production, supporting aquaculture

The Nebraska location was announced in 2017 and both DSM Nutritional Products and Evonik Nutrition and Care invested in facility development. The plant produces the oil from the algae strain Schizochytrium ssp.​ using fermentation and patented downstream processes, the company said.

The production facility is anticipated to take up to 12 months to reach critical volume or “critical production capacity,”​ said Kurmaly.

“We expect to be able to supply 15% of the global demand for omega 3 EPA/DHA for the salmon industry, which equates to about 1.2m metric tons of wild catch fish, which is more fish than are in the Mediterranean Sea.”

The oil generated at the facility is being priced as a premium product because it has a 2- to 2.5-times higher concentration in the omega-3s EPA and DHA when compared to typical fish oil, he said.

It also is not susceptible to seasonal production fluctuation and is “free of seaborne contaminates.” ​  

The expanded production is also intended to help support further expansion of the aquaculture industry by providing an alternative source of DHA and EPA than that from marine derived resources, he said.

“One of the key points that salmon farmers and retailers have been asking about is how can they continue growing and yet at the same time reduce pressure on wild fish stocks in the world’s oceans,” ​Kurmaly said.

Increased algal oil production helps reduce that reliance on wild-caught fish, will allow the industry to continue expanding and help boost the levels of omega-3s found in farmed salmon, he argued.

“The omega-3 levels [in farmed salmon] have declined by over 50% simply because of the limitation or limited availability of fish oil for salmon feed,”​ he said. “Now we have a solution for that.”

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