Challenge FAQ

Who is the organizer?

The F3 Team works together to organize and administer the contest.

Who is the entrant?

The lead entrant must be a company that sells a qualifying fish oil alternative formulation (“Qualified F3oil”) that it owns or licenses directly to End Customers or Distribution Channels, as defined in the Challenge Rules, for actual consumption in aquaculture operations during the Challenge Period.

The lead entrant can form partnerships with other companies to create an Entrant Team. For each partnering company, the lead entrant should send the following information to
(1) the name of company and website
(2) the name, title, address, work phone number, mobile
phone number, and email address of the contact person at the company, and include
(3) a brief description of the partnership, and

If the lead entrant is partnering with other companies for purposes of aggregating total sales of qualifying F3 Oil Types to End Customers, then for each such partner, in addition to (1)-(3) above, please also include:
(4) a description of the partner company’s sales territory.

Partnering companies can be added to Entrant Teams until November 30, 2018.

The lead entrant of the winning team will be awarded the prize (and be responsible for splitting the prize at its discretion among its Entrant Team partners) as described in the Challenge Rules.

What are the advantages of joining the Challenge, even if we are not in a position to win?

There are still good reasons to join this Challenge. First of all, due to the technical difficulty of the Challenge, our impression is that even pilot scale efforts may well win. The other benefits of participation include publicity and an invitation to a networking event.

  • Publicity: Exposure of your product in the press may be helpful to book orders prior to a commercial launch or increase orders if your product is already being sold commercially. Our press targets not just English but China and South East Asian markets.
  • Networking event: Contestants who have submitted samples by Nov. 2018 will be invited in Feb. 2019 to a networking event with large feed companies and others interested in innovative ingredients for aquaculture.
Can feed companies participate?

Yes, feed companies can participate as long as the feed company is teamed up with a company that sells a Qualified F3oil. In this case, sales of Qualified F3oil from the oil company (lead entrant) to the partnering feed company should be reported during the sales periods of the Challenge.

The company that sells the Qualified F3oil should register for the Challenge (as the lead entrant) and will need to include the following information for the partnering feed company:
(1) the name of company and website
(2) the name, title, address, work phone number, mobile
phone number, and email address of the contact person at the company, and include
(3) a brief description of the partnership

Please send the aforementioned information (1)-(3) to

We are a feed company. We buy EPA, DHA, and ARA separately from different vendors and make our own oils in different combinations for different species. How can we participate in the contest?

There are 2 main options:

1: One approach would be to have one vendor mix fatty acids from all sources and sell that product to you. That vendor can mix different oils for different species as long as it fits the criteria. In this scenario, the vendor would be the lead entrant in the contest (since they are the one selling the F3oil product(s)) and could include you on their contestant team.

2: If you have formulated a Qualified F3oil in house and are selling it to another division of the company for aquaculture feed production, then you can register for the contest as the lead entrant, as long as one or both of the following conditions are met:

a) The ingredient providers are included as partners of your Entrant Team
b) You make the Qualified F3oil commercially available (at an equivalent cost)

How did you decide on the fatty acid profile?

The minimum levels of DHA, EPA, and ARA were averaged from the fatty acid profiles of Sardine (Pacific), Anchovy, Herring (Atlantic), and Menhaden fish oils (NRC, 2011).

Can you tell me more about how these fatty acids were selected for the Challenge?

The fatty acid content concentration of fish oil will vary considerably dependent on many factors including but not limited to species, season and water temperature. There are probably additional important substances in fish oil besides ARA, EPA, and DHA, but inclusion of more substances was thought to go beyond the scope of this challenge. These three fatty acids were chosen due to the considerable research available on the effect on fish health, growth and reproduction and the effect on human heart and brain health. It has been demonstrated that with several species there is limited ability to synthesize these fatty acids, so inclusion in the diet is important.

There are obvious sources for EPA and DHA but I am having difficulty sourcing ARA. Do you have any recommendations?

Known sources of ARA include some fungi and whole egg powder made from inedible broken eggs, but other sources may be in development.

How is the challenge measuring success?

First, we will verify that a submitted F3oil product meets the minimum DHA, EPA, ARA levels for qualification. Then, we will calculate the amount of fatty acids sold (DHA + EPA + ARA) based on their concentrations in the given F3oil product and quantity of F3oil product sold between Oct. 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019. The contestant team with the greatest amount of fatty acids sold from qualifying product(s) at the Challenge end date will win. Note that we are not looking at the amount of DHA, EPA, and ARA in an end feed product that uses the F3oil but the concentrations found in the F3oil product itself.

Can end feed products that use a given F3oil product still contain some fish meal and/or fish oil?

Yes, because this challenge is not focused on the end feed product but on the F3oil product (ingredient). Our only requirement is that the F3oil product meet the criteria mentioned, including being free of fishmeal and fish oil. We want to increase sales of fish feeds that use alternative ingredients, so we encourage full or even half replacement.

Can you go over the timeline of the contest?

A company must register for the Challenge by April 30, 2018. Then you have until Nov. 30, 2018 to send in a sample of your qualifying product and add any partners to your contestant team. After, sales reporting will begin in Jan. 2019 and include 4 quarterly sales reports, and conclude in Sept. 2019 when a winner will be announced.

How do you select a winner?

The winner is chosen by 3 judges, from sponsoring institutions.

How do you make sure the contest is fair?

We will use DNA testing and chromatography to ensure that the fish oil is from non-marine animal sources. Then, the judges will verify sales records with on-site visits and other validating techniques.

Is the Challenge open to non-U.S. companies?

Yes, the Challenge is open to companies worldwide. However, English is the official language for submissions and all other communications for the Challenge. International competitors need to translate any communications into English for their submissions to be considered.

Are you against using seafood in aquaculture feeds?

No. In fact, we are considering another prize targeted towards recycling farmed fish waste. However, for this prize we want to increase the options available for alternative oil sources for aquafeeds since the supply of wild caught fish and in particular forage fish, which are the most common source of oil used in aquafeeds, is at risk. More innovation is needed to find additional ingredients and cost effective formulations if the industry is to continue to grow.

Why are aquaculture by-products not allowed in the F3oils?

While we acknowledge that aquaculture by-products are a responsible source of fish oils, at this time, testing does not allow differentiation of aquaculture by-products from wild capture fishery products.

What are some of the concerns with using bycatch and seafood processing byproducts for fish meal and fish oils?

There is a lot of good information on fishing bycatch and the processed waste of seafood being used as ingredients back into aquaculture diets, normally for unrelated species. While we agree that these are efficient uses of these resources, there are also many problems. Bycatch and seafood processing byproducts are often and increasingly used for direct human consumption. In addition, removing forage fish and bycatch from the ocean impacts animals higher in the marine food chain, such as seabirds, marine mammals, and larger fish. Many studies have documented the decline in large predatory species. It is also important to point out that processing waste produces low-quality fish meal and fish oil, as high-quality protein and oils have been removed. The high bone and scale content meal that is left is an inferior ingredient, but nevertheless does contribute 10-15% of the global fish meal supply and extends the supply of fish meal as overfishing continues in some parts of the world.

We have an ingredient company with an ingredient that is promising for aquaculture. What do I need to do to determine the market potential, and break into the aquafeed industry?

Aquafeed companies are keenly interested in alternative ingredients to replace fishmeal and fish oil, because of their high cost. But, ingredient replacement is risky. To prove to aquafeed companies that your ingredient has promise, we recommend you follow the recommended Ingredient Evaluation Process outlined here.

It is well documented that the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid or (EPA), in the human diet are beneficial by supporting normal growth, immunity, and improving cardiovascular and brain health. However, can the human body convert short chain omega-3s, including alpho-lenic acid (ALA) and stearidonic acid (SDA) found in plants and seeds, into longer chain omega-3s, including EPA and DHA? If so, does this negate the need for humans to consume foods that contain naturally occurring long-chain omega-3s, like fish?

While EPA and DHA can be synthesized from ALA and SDA in the human body, due to low conversion efficiency, it is highly recommended to obtain EPA and DHA from additional sources, including fish and other marine products1. Studies have shown a great deal of variability, but typically less than 10% of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA2, 3.