Skretting acquires significant share of Volare's upcoming BSF production volume

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/metamorworks
© GettyImages/metamorworks

Related tags Skretting Norway salmon production Volare offtake agreement Finland

Finnish insect ingredient producer, Volare, announced a significant commercial advancement with Skretting signing an offtake agreement with the startup.

The aqua feed company has committed to buying a “substantial” volume of products from Volare’s first commercial scale Black Soldier Fly (BSF) factory, which it will start building in Finland this year.

“This is a significant step for insect meal inclusion in aquafeeds, especially Norwegian salmon feeds,” says Jarna Hyvönen, Volare’s chief operating officer (COO) who was unable to disclose the percentage volumes sold as per the offtake deal.

Given that around 75% percent of the salmon farming carbon footprint arises from feed, and 95% of the feed footprint originates from raw materials, partnerships are essential for industry-wide change, claim the collaborators.

"We are constantly looking for novel sustainable raw materials, and this is a welcome addition to our current supply of insect meal. We need more volume,” says Erling Johansen, purchasing manager for special ingredients at Skretting Norway.

Norway has set a goal of producing 5 million tons of salmon in 2050, which translates to 6.2 million tons of feed when measured in dry weight. To meet this ambitious goal, sustainable feed production is critical to ensure reduced emissions and costs, according to the seventh edition ​of EY’s annual Norwegian Aquaculture Analysis.

Norwegian policymakers are urging that all salmon feed should come from sustainable resources by 2030, and that there should be greater use of local ingredients. However, Norwegian salmon production is highly dependent on imported ingredients, found EY’s report.

Long-term collaboration 

Skretting and Volare envision this engagement as the initial step in a long-term partnership.

Hyvönen told us that establishing this collaboration was a gradual process that involved extensive dialogue with key stakeholders at Skretting.

Volare's efforts included presenting product samples from its demonstration factory, and in September of last year, the startup paid a visit to Skretting Norway. Given Skretting's stringent supplier validation standards, the COO said Volare dedicated considerable effort to reassuring the aqua feed major of its capability to meet and exceed its criteria, not only at its demonstration unit but also at the forthcoming large-scale facility.

In early 2023, the insect producer, a spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, announced a plan to build an industrial-scale production site in Järvenpää, Finland, with annual production capacity of 5,000 tons of insect protein meal and oil. It plans for multiple factories across Europe by the end of the decade.

Picture: Erling Johansen and Mette Lütcherath from Skretting and Tuure Parviainen and Jarna Hyvönen from Volare at Skretting’s trial station in Norway in September 2023.

Volare already has an operational demonstration facility in Finland for testing and selected launches and will start delivering ingredients to Skretting in 2024. The startup revealed in June 2023 that it was collaborating with organic egg farm, Mäntymäen Luomutila, and feed company, Rehux, to feed laying hens​ its insect meal.

The Finnish business outlined previously how its protein production model adheres to the principles of the circular economy, minimizing waste by using food industry surplus like inedible grain components, vegetable trimmings, and by-products from beer brewing. And it says food industry side streams are nearly limitless in scope.

Volare also claims the environmental impact of insect production is negligible compared to conventional protein and oil feed raw materials, producing only a fraction of the emissions of those other inputs. Moreover, the company has developed and patented a process to produce protein and oil from BSF larvae without a significant addition of water. Because of this, the process takes less energy than other similar methods and results in a 50% lower operating cost, it added.

There are a range of new raw materials entering into the aqua feed value chain such as algal, black soldier fly, and bacterial ingredients but barriers remain in terms of getting those inputs to scale, according to a panel at the Blue Food Innovation Summit​ in London in June 2023.

The panel members stressed how offtake agreements as currency with feed producers are absolutely critical for the success of startups in the feed ingredient space. 

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