Veramaris and Skretting team up to provide Lingalaks fish feed based on marine algae oil.
“The dilemma for producing more salmon is that it needs fish oil. Fishing has been the only source. But there is not enough fish in the sea to ensure growth. This is something Veramaris has looked at with our investors,” said Karim Kurmaly.
He is the CEO of the Dutch company Veramaris, who wants to kill two birds with one stone. “We have two reasons for being here: to save the sea from overfishing and ensure growth for farmed salmon,” he said.
Kurmaly apologises for his hoarse voice. He is both cold and has been up for 24-hours. We have traveled far to snow-clad Norheimsund, Western Norway, where Lingalaks has its offices on the two upper floors of an old bank.
“One needs at least 250 mg of omega 3, EPA and DHA fatty acids daily. Salmon is a key species to meet the daily needs of omega 3. The grocery chains tell us that customers are concerned with sustainability and health – and they are willing to pay for it,” Kurmaly continued.
The business idea of Veramaris is to produce marine microalgae, based on natural marine algae. “We ferment natural marine oils in large tanks to produce the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA,” he added.
In the wild, marine algae are consumed by zooplankton which is again eaten by fish. Fish are then caught, and put into fish oil, which is an important ingredient in, among other things, in fish feed. The idea for Veramaris is to save marine life by reducing the value chain of nature. They feed the algae directly to the salmon.
“We have contacted supermarkets in Germany and France. This is something they believe can create value for them. The interest is how much fish one can deliver. Is there one or two trucks a week? The focus for us is whether we can produce enough,” said Kurmaly, adding that “It’s a formidable interest.”
The German supermarket chain Kaufland, whose owner Schwarz group also controls the low-price giant Lidl, has announced that they will buy the product before Easter.
“We produce at two factories and have a third in progress. We can supply “15 percent plus” of the omega 3 need for salmon farming. We have the opportunity of a significant increase at our factory in Blair, Nebraska. The factory is located in the Midwest because the algae need sugar. We extract sugar out of corn. The marine algae can convert this to omega 3. It is similar to the production form for beer. We go right over the fence and get the corn. We also do not have waste. We feed it to cattle. Nebraska is known for its excellent steak,” Kurmaly continued.
He does not want to state how many tonnes of feed raw material the algae plants can produce. “This is competitively sensitive, so I hope you understand I can’t share it. But we can meet the demand and grow with the aquaculture industry’s increased future demand,” he said.
Linglaks’ feed supplier, Skretting, is pleased with what they have seen so far from the marine microalgae.
“We do not want to reduce marine fish oil. But now we can increase the EPA and the DHA level in the feed,” said Mads Martinsen, director of product development in Skretting.
“It gives higher omega-3 levels in the feed. We have checked growth, taste, quality and fish health. It is important that we have checked this – and we have done so,” said Martinsen, adding that they have also done taste tests of algae-fed salmon to ensure quality.