“Giving new raw material producers this much marketing space will backfire in the long run”

Salmon farmers should be supporting real alternatives.

On March 11, I wrote an opinion piece on SalmonBusiness on the topic of alternate protein sources as feed ingredients in the aquaculture feed and special focus on the case of insects being used as the feed ingredient.

Why does all of this matter and what is the big deal?

To replace the fish meal from the traditional feeds is extremely important to gain long term sustainable feed solutions in place. But it has to be done in a sensible way. Unfortunately, what is really happening is that fish farmers are taking these alternate ingredients in as the pressure from retailers as it is very visible in the case of insects.

Sunny Z. Akhter

“Town of green washing”
The marketing is done by the big producers of alternate proteins, and the fish farming industry is not concerned about the long lasting effect of this trend. By giving these new raw material producers this much marketing space and light, it will backfire in the long run. This is because the end-consumer is getting blind to this new narrative, that everything in the traditional feed industry do is inherently bad and this has to change.

The connection between the end customer and the fish farmer needs to change otherwise, the narrative of sustainable and healthy food will be completely taken over by these newbies in the “town of green washing.”

Traditional fish feed ingredients make up a significanlty large portion of the aquafeed today, but the focus has just become to include minor percentage of these new raw materials without any solid guarantee for future supplies and costs.

Rays of hope
A few days ago, one of the biggest industry groups, The Salmon Group announced that they will be using grasshoppers for salmon feed. This is interesting development to see the least, as it is a local solution. But having skin in the game, I can say with confidence that this solution is not long term.

We need to come out of short term cosmetic solutions and think more deeply for the future of these ingredients. The high chitin level in grasshoppers does not make them a good candidate of alternate protein ingredients. The costs will be too high. Groups should be supporting real alternatives.

The logical way
In my understanding, fish by-products hold the key, as they can be sourced locally and have good nutritional profiles. Single cell proteins, micro algaes and plant-based processed ingredients are also the future. Seaweed is a hidden treasure.

It is very important to do the things which are long lasting. We don’t need cosmetic short term effects to sink in the marketing campaign launched by players who have little to lose. The stakes are much higher here and long lasting.