Farmed salmon eat dry feed formed into pellets. About 70% of the feed consists of vegetable ingredients, while about 30% comes from marine raw materials such as fishmeal and fish oil.
Fish feed is the most important input factor in fish farming, and quality assurance of feed and feed raw materials is therefore absolutely essential. In 2017, Lerøy Seafood Group purchased feed from all three major suppliers in Norway: EWOS, Skretting and Biomar.
Working closely together with our feed suppliers, Lerøy Seafood Group has taken an active role in influencing the further development of feed composition to ensure that it is as highly adapted as possible to our fish-farming environment, our fish material and our market strategy. To facilitate these efforts, the Group has developed state-of-the art R&D facilities where feed trials can be carried out. In 2017, several trials were performed on both the use of new raw materials in feed and benchmarking existing feed concepts. During 2017, Lerøy Seafood Group has carried out extensive benchmarking of growth feed from the Group's three largest suppliers. The trials focused on feed factor and feed costs per kilo of fish produced. The benchmarking process has been carried out as a controlled trial at the Group's own trial facilities, as cage trials at commercial trial facilities (LetSea) and at the Group's own production facilities. Benchmarking at in-house production facilities is demanding, as we have to take into account a high number of variables in addition to feed. In total, 33 production cages have been in use during the trials, and the results are clear and conclusive. Lerøy Seafood Group intends to continue with these types of trials.
Lerøy Seafood Group has a particular focus on product quality for the end customer. During the year, the Group has intensified its efforts on sustainability and certification schemes for individual raw materials.
The aquaculture industry currently consumes up to 80% of the worldwide production of Omega-3-rich fish oil. Fish oil is the most important source of the healthy essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Lerøy has chosen to sustain a higher level of these Omega-3 fatty acids than required in the industry standard, with a view to both fish welfare and the quality of the end product. The gap between the level required in the standard and the level utilised by Lerøy is principally covered by Omega-3-rich oils produced by microorganisms. This is currently the most sustainable source of this oil available.
Lerøy Seafood Group has introduced a comprehensive sampling programme for re-examination of feed in terms of chemical content, dust and presence of foreign substances. The Group is able to trace both species and origin of the raw materials used in its fish feed. The feed suppliers carry out audits of their own suppliers, and Lerøy Seafood Group conducts annual audits of the feed companies. These measures, combined with the feed suppliers’ internal control activities and traceability, allow us to maintain control of feed content and quality.
Ethoxyquin, an antioxidant, has recently been the subject of much discussion. This antioxidant is added to fishmeal to prevent explosion during long-distance transport by boat. Without the addition of the antioxidant, the fishmeal may ignite when it heats up. This substance is currently subject to a new approval round in the EU, prompting discussions as to whether ethoxyquin will be approved. Ethoxyquin is not utilised directly in feed. Together with our suppliers of fish feed, Lerøy has worked together with the feed suppliers for some years to come up with an alternative to ethoxyquin From 2017 Lerøy no longer uses ethoxyquin in fishmeal to be used in our fish feed.
Access to raw materials for fish feed is good, despite a number of external factors which impact on supply. There are no special requirements for the raw material content of feed for fish (for example fishmeal), but fish require feed with a specific nutritional content. Today, we prefer to produce fish feed from cuttings from the wild fish industry and to supply wild fish directly for human consumption where possible. Raw material from wild fish is utilised as an ingredient in numerous different types of animal feed. Among all farmed animals, salmon is the most efficient at converting raw materials into consumable goods. The volume of wild fish caught and utilised for fishmeal and oil remains relatively stable and will most likely not increase in the near future.
2017 saw an increased demand for marine raw materials, putting pressure on the supply of marine raw materials. The steady growth of the aquaculture industry, particularly in Asia, and the vast increase in direct consumption by humans, for example of oil in Omega-3 capsules, have resulted in higher prices and a reduced supply of marine raw materials. The Group has taken an active approach to these challenges and has been able to find successful and sustainable solutions in cooperation with the feed industry.
Catch methods for the most common marine species:
Capelin: Ring net, floating trawler, trawler
Herring: Ring net, trawler
Mackerel: Purse seine, trawler
Sand eel: Fine-mesh trawler
Blue whiting: Ring net with pelagic trawler, industrial trawler
Brisling: Industrial trawler, coastal net vessel
Norway pout: Small-mesh trawler
MARINE RAW INGREDIENTS IN FISH FEED, LERØY SEAFOOD GROUP 2017
In 2017, blue whiting, anchoveta and sand eel were the largest input factors among the marine raw materials in feed. The largest input factors among vegetable raw materials were soya and rape.
What are FishSource scores? http://www.fishsource.org/
FishSource compiles and summarises publicly available scientific and technical information about the status of fisheries and aquaculture into an easily interpretable form. FishSource does not have its “own” sustainability rating system but provides the user with information on how internationally accredited systems would rate the fisheries. FishSource scores provide users with simplified indicators of how fisheries are performing according to globally accepted measures of sustainability. Scores make use of commonly reported numbers from stock assessments, but do not define a fishery as “good” or “bad”.
Fisheries can be ranked against one another, providing insights into how other groups would score a fishery using current measures of sustainability. Scores currently relate to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards, which in turn rely on international organisations’ criteria, e.g. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Scores have been developed such that a score of 8 corresponds to an MSC rating of 80, i.e. an “unconditional pass” on that criterion, towards MSC certification. The same rationale applies to e.g. a FishSource score below 6, i.e. "the fishery will be ineligible for certification” (MSC standards).
“FISH IN – FISH OUT” – FIFO
FIFO is the volume of wild fish used to produce 1 kg of salmon. The targets set in the ASC standard are:
FIFO for protein (meal) below 1.35 and FIFO for oil below 2.85.
For 2017, the FIFO value for protein at Lerøy Seafood Group will be approximately 0.27, while that for fish oil will be approximately 1.45. It is natural to calculate one FIFO value for protein and one for oil, as these two raw materials have very different characteristics. We need 1.45 kg of wild fish to produce enough oil to produce 1 kg of salmon, but we only need 0.27 kg of wild fish to gain enough protein for 1 kg of salmon. As such, we have a surplus of fishmeal that can be utilised for other products.
The feed factor is an important indicator of how efficiently we convert feed in relation to produced volume of fish. Salmon farming is exceptionally efficient compared with other domestic animals. The feed factor for chickens is approximately 2 and for pork approximately 3.5, while Lerøy Seafood Group’s fish-farming companies reported a feed factor of 1.18 for salmon in 2017. This implies that we need 1.18 kg feed to produce 1 kg salmon, while 3.5 kg feed is needed to produce 1 kg pork.
The following actions have been initiated to reduce the feed factor:
In recent years, there has been a marked increase in vegetable sources of raw materials for fish feed. This leads to a reduction in the utilisation of marine raw materials and, in turn, reduced utilisation of different fish species.
Within salmon and trout farming, fish feed is the most important individual component in terms of both environmental accounts and costs. Lerøy Seafood Group relies on sustainable production of the fish used in fish feed so that the Group can continue to produce tasty and healthy seafood in the long term. In principle, it is desirable that all fish suitable for consumption is used as human food, but in practice this is not always possible. Fishermen will first try to deliver their catch for human consumption. However, onshore capacity to receive large volumes of fish is often insufficient. A large volume of the parts of the fish used for fish feed come from by-products of the actual fish.
Demand for raw materials is a prerequisite for sale of fish for human consumption. It is important to underline that fish not suited for direct human consumption is best used as feed for other fish species.
In nature, fish is a natural part of the salmon’s diet, and farmed salmon is therefore a fantastic vector for introducing valuable marine proteins and oils into the human diet. We feel privileged to be part of this, and to be able to participate in its future development.