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Companies invest in aquaculture ingredients

BASF, Cargill, Calysta advance alternatives to wild fish

by Alex Scott
December 1, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 48

Credit: Shutterstock
Wild fish in fish feed could be replaced with synthetic protein and oil from genetically modified crops.

Cargill, BASF, and U.S. start-up Calysta are moving ahead with novel technologies for making proteins and oils for feeding farmed fish. Their goal is to reduce the use of wild fish in fish feed, a practice widely recognized as unsustainable. Currently, about one-quarter of the 85 million metric tons of wild fish caught each year is used as food for cultivated species.

California-based Calysta says it has raised money from several investors, including Cargill, to build its first commercial plant for making FeedKind, a fishmeal alternative containing essential amino acids and other nutritional ingredients for fish. Only long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have to be added to FeedKind to provide all the nutrients required by cultivated fish, Calysta says.

Calysta’s bacterial fermentation process uses natural gas as a raw material. The nutrients that fish need are contained in the body of the bacteria, which are harvested with minimal processing.

The plant will be at a Cargill site in Memphis, Tenn. It’s set to have an initial capacity of 20,000 metric tons per year, with the option of expansion to 200,000 metric tons. The facility is expected to come on-line in late 2018. Calysta plans to hire 75 staffers to operate it.

“This venture is an important first step to deploying this technology globally,” says Calysta CEO Alan Shaw.

In a separate move that appears to complement Calysta’s technology, Cargill and BASF are developing an omega-3-oil-rich species of canola that could yield oil to replace whats now obtained largely from wild fish.

Cargill and BASF expect to introduce the omega-3-enhanced canola sometime after 2020. Trials conducted in Chile by Cargill show that the oil obtained from genetically engineered canola can be used to completely replace the omega-3 oils normally sourced from wild fish. The company adds that the enhanced canola oil could also one day be directly added to consumer foods.



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