“Before the goal was growth, now we are chasing quality”

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Skretting Averøy (Norway) Production director Hilde Roald believes that the whole value chain throughout the aquaculture industry must take part if feed producers are to make an even more sustainable feed.

It’s no secret that feed producers have struggled with overcapacity in recent years and, as a result, are struggling with poorer margins. Skretting Averøy’s Production Director Hilde Roald has been at the factory for over 25 years. She thinks there was at a clear junction 7-8 years ago.

Production Director, Hilde Roald, and Aslak Bjørshol, factory manager. PHOTOS: Andreas Witzøe

“We got to a point where we stopped focusing so much on growth and started chasing quality. For a long period, growth in the entire industry was so great that almost no matter how much we as a feed producer could produce, it was sold off,” she said, adding:

“That’s not how it is today. Now we must focus all the way on making the best possible feed. We think the quality we have on our feed today is very good. This shows on the low claims figures for Skretting.”

Over 1000 types
Today, the Averøy factory in Western Norway is completely dependent on good forecasts for its feed production. With somewhere between 30 and 40 different raw materials that need to be ordered and over 1,000 different feed types in the catalog, a lot of planning is needed.

PHOTOS: Andreas Witzøe

“Last year, we produced over 600 types of feed. Production of fish feed is not as straightforward and easy as many people think. Farmers want their special types and then we have to deliver according to the order,” said Roald.

Often orders come down to a little as 40 tonnes. Several different types of feed are produced on each of the three lines at the factory just about every day.

“We obviously prefer bigger orders and large productions, because it makes all industrial production easier, but we cant chose that. We just have to make sure that we deliver what the salmon farmers want, and my whole team stands by to get it done,” said Roald.

Sustainability
Several environmental protection organizations, including the Future in our hands, have argued that the proportion of soy used in feed is too high and must decrease. Roald said they are continuously working on alternative protein sources in Skretting, but that today there are no real alternatives to replace all the soy.

“A soy boycott is not the way to go. There is a too black or white attitude because agriculture in Brazil can be run responsibly and sustainably. Cutting out soy altogether will be a collective punishment of Brazilian farmers. But we must be conscious of our environmental responsibility, and we do this by finding new alternative raw materials that have small footprints,” said Roald.

The “Crude Passion” tanker is used as an oil storage facility at the factory. PHOTOS: Andreas Witzøe

“We have already started to use alternatives such as insect flour. A lot of research is being done, and some small producers of alternative protein sources already exist. But that’s far from enough. We need access to much more raw materials, and the high price also makes it challenging. New raw materials will have a higher price, at least for a long time before volumes reach levels that allow costs to compete with Brazilian soy. Here, the entire value chain must lift in droves,” she said.

“If we are to spend more money on raw materials in the feed, salmon farmers also have to pay more. And then the end consumers must also expect to pay more for salmon in the store. Everyone must be prepared to take part if we are to make it work, Roald concluded.

Some feed from the factory at Averøy is also supplied in smaller bags. PHOTOS: Andreas Witzøe