Challenge FAQ

UPDATE: Registration for the F3 Challenge – Carnivore Edition has closed. The feed submission and partnership deadline is November 30, 2021. Please check the Timeline page for further timeline updates.

What is the purpose of the F3 Challenge?

The F3 challenge has the goal of replacing fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds and to make sure that nutrients are available so that aquaculture can continue to grow, despite uncertainties in forage fish supply, and to prevent an ecological crisis in the oceans. F3 represents the Future of Fish Feed, formerly Fish-Free Feed.

What is the third F3 Challenge?

This third F3 challenge is to create a fish-free feed for ​3 separate Award Categories: Shrimp, Salmonids and Other Carnivorous species. The goal of this challenge is to reduce aquaculture’s demand for forage fish by advancing substitute feeds for the industry’s biggest consumers of forage fish.

Each separate Award Category will have its own prize, its own contestants and will have a single winner. A company can enter multiple Award Categories, and needs to submit a feed sample for each category entered. When sending the feed sample, be sure to include the Award Category, the Species or Animal for which the feed applies, and the Life Stage.

Who is the organizer?

The Future of Fish Feed (F3) is a collaborative effort between NGOs, researchers, and private partnerships to accelerate the commercialization of innovative, substitute aquaculture feed ingredients to replace wild-caught fish. The F3 Team works together to organize and administer the contest.

Who can join? Are there any restrictions for teaming up?

Entrants need to be companies that can produce and sell feed. Companies can collaborate with other entrants to form a team, but each team must have a company that leads the group or the ‘Lead Entrant’.​ The lead entrant must​ either own or license a distinct formulation of F3 feed (“F3 Feed Type”) for a carnivorous fish in one of three categories: (a) Salmonid, (b) Shrimp, or (c) Other Carnivorous Species. If a Lead Entrant submits a feed for Other Carnivorous Species, the Entrant needs to have the​ species approved by the Judges. Qualified submissions are defined in the Challenge Rules.

The Lead Entrant can form partnerships with other companies to create an Entrant Team. The lead entrant should send the following information to​for each partnering 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, and if the lead entrant is partnering with other companies for purposes of aggregating total sales of qualifying F3 Feed 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. 2021.

The Lead Entrant of the winning team for each category 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.

Does a company qualify for the Challenge if they produce qualifying F3 feed and use it to grow and sell their own carnivorous species?

Yes! Such a company would qualify for the Challenge so long as their species is approved by the Judges. They must also be able to quantify the qualifying feed they are producing, and provide some means to verify the amount of animals grown on this feed.

Can a company with a fish-free substitute ingredient join as an Entrant? Will sales of the fish-free ingredient count toward the Entrant's total competitive sales?

A fish-free ingredient by itself would not qualify in the metric of the contest, which is the number of tons of qualifying feed sold for salmon, shrimp, or other carnivorous species. However, we encourage ingredient suppliers to partner with feed companies, farms, and others to formulate and sell complete fish-free feeds for the competition. Companies may compete on more than one team, with one or more diets in each Award Category.

The Entrant Team is responsible for distributing any prize money amongst its members.

Can multiple feed mills & farmers come together with the lead company to form a consortium?

Yes, we encourage consortia.

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.

  • Adaptability: Companies that switch to substitute ingredients will be better positioned for long-term growth, because they will be able to continue to supply and sell feed for a wide variety of carnivorous aquacultured fish, even if wild-caught forage fish stocks diminish, or become unavailable. These companies will have ‘future-proofed’ their supply chain through leveraging the opportunity of the F3 Challenge contest.
  • 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 will be invited to participate in the F3 Webinar Series, a virtual networking event with large feed companies and others interested in innovative ingredients for aquaculture.
What are the key criteria to win?

The F3 prize will be awarded to the company or team that makes and sells the most fish-free feed to aquaculture operations or feed manufacturers by the contest end date.

What are the requirements of feed to be counted towards an Entrant's sales?

For sales to qualify and count toward an entrants’ progress in this Challenge, the feed sold must:

1. be formulated as aquaculture feed, for either a Salmonid, Shrimp, or Other Carnivorous Species. If a contestant submits feed for “Other Carnivorous Species,” the contestant must get approval from the judges for the species.
2. be free of marine animal ingredients

Will you protect the core business information of participating companies, and does a feed mill have to disclose its recipe (formulation) & IP?

The F3 Team and the judges have an incentive to keep the reputation of the F3 Prize. Entrants must disclose ingredients for each feed, but not the recipe (formulation). Usually, ingredients need to be disclosed in most countries on the feed bag, so the contest request is not unusual. Business information from the prior two F3 competitions were never disclosed or leaked.

Can you go over the timeline of the contest?

A company must register for the Challenge by September 15, 2021. Then you have until November 30, 2021 to send in a sample of your qualifying product and add any partners to your contestant team. Effective October 1, 2020, registered teams may begin recording sales towards their Sales Totals for the competition as long as they submit a qualifying feed sample prior to recording sales. Sales reporting will begin in January 2022 and include 4 sales reports, and conclude in September 2022 when a winner will be announced.

How do you select winners for each category?

A winner will be selected for each category – salmonid, shrimp, and other carnivorous species – by the 3 judges from sponsoring institutions. The winning teams will have the greatest amount of qualifying F3 Feeds sold in their category at the conclusion of the Challenge sales periods (September 15, 2022).

How do you verify samples and sales submissions?

We will use DNA testing and chromatography to ensure that the fish feed is from non-marine animal sources. Then, the judges will verify sales records through 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 substitute feed sources for carnivorous species since the supply of wild caught fish and in particular forage fish, which are the most common source of fishmeal and fish 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 F3 Feed Types?

While we acknowledge that aquaculture by-products are a responsible source of fish meal and 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 substitute 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.