The F3 (Future of Fish Feed) is a collaboration among NGOs, scientists, and private partners to accelerate the commercialization of alternative ingredients to replace the use of wild-caught fish in aquaculture feed.
About Aquaculture Feed
Fish farming, or aquaculture, now provides more than half of the world’s seafood. The world’s population is expected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050 and aquaculture-raised seafood, one of the fastest growing food sectors in the world today, is expected to fill in the supply-demand gap for high-quality, easily digested protein sources (FAO 2018). Aquaculture consumes 70% of total fishmeal production and 73% of total fish oil production (Rabobank 2017).
Oily “forage fish” like sardines, anchovies and menhaden are currently harvested from the wild and used as a component in feed for farmed-raised fish. Fishmeal and fish oil provide the protein and essential fatty acids such as DHA, EPA and ARA that are critical nutrients for aquaculture. The industry has improved efficiency and produces more seafood from the fishmeal and fish oil used, but it still takes roughly half a kilogram of fishmeal to produce one kilogram of salmon (IFFO). A recent study found that if ‘business as usual’ continues, forage fisheries will reach ecological limits by 2037—in 18 years. (Nature Sustainability June 2018).
The long-term availability of fishmeal and fish oil presents major supply chain bottlenecks for aquaculture.The industry is projected to contract when wild-caught supplies diminish in 2030 without the availability of alternative ingredient supplies (World Bank 2013). Forage fish are also crucial food for other commercial fisheries like cod, salmon, tuna, as well as marine mammals like whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds (Science2011). If these wild fish populations at the center of the food chain disappear, so will the life that depends on.
A survey of U.S. residents by Cargill found that 72% of American consumers believe seafood is important to their health and nutrition, and 88% of those same consumers are willing to pay more for seafood that is certified as sustainably and responsibly sourced. (Undercurrent News Aug. 17, 2017).
The F3 Challenge
The F3 team has launched two X-prize style contests related to innovation in fish-free aquaculture feed. The first contest, F3 (Fish-Free Feed) Challenge, was to innovate and sell the most “Fish Free Feed” in a global competition. One of China’s largest aquaculture and feed producers, Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Company, was awarded the $200,100 prize in Oct. 2017 for selling over 85,000 metric tons of fish-free fish feed. In total, over 120,000 metric tons of fish-free feed was sold by the global participants of the F3 (Fish-Free Feed) Challenge during the 16-month contest, which is estimated to have saved over 120 million forage fish from being used as fish feed.
The second, currently on-going, contest, F3 Fish Oil Challenge, will award a $100,000+ prize to the contestant who develops and sells the most “fish-free” fish oil. The challenge is intended to accelerate innovation in alternatives to fish oil without the use of marine animal ingredients that can be scaled up for their widespread use in aquaculture operations. The contest will run from Nov. 30, 2018 to Sept. 15, 2019.
The global fish oil market is projected to reach over $4 billion by 2020, and the rapidly expanding growing global aquaculture industry is the greatest source of demand for fish oil. Demand for fish oil as an ingredient in dietary supplements and pet food is also on the rise (GrandView Research 2016). The market for fishmeal and fish oil substitutes is large and presents a great market opportunity for enterprising companies, while promoting ocean sustainability.
Feed Innovation Network
The Feed Innovation Network (FIN) brings together aquafeed buyers and sellers, fish farmers, innovators and scientists to advance the development and adoption of alternative fish-free ingredients by the aquaculture industry. FIN is a project of the (F3) Future of Fish Feed.
FIN supports the innovation and widespread adoption of alternative fish-free feed ingredients by:
- Connecting ingredient suppliers, aquafeed buyers, and fish farmers and providing information on experimental protocols, testing facilities and promising new ingredients
- Accelerating research and innovation in the scaling up of sustainable ingredients to feed our planet.
- Providing aquaculture industry professionals access to experts in fish nutrition, aquaculture science, seafood sustainability standards, and invitations to special meetings and other forums for knowledge exchange.
FIN’s free database includes (1) a list of suppliers of non-marine animal ingredients such as soy, crickets, black soldier fly, pea, yeast and algae; (2) a list of fish-free feed producers and sellers globally; (3) a list of facilities available to evaluate feed ingredients for a variety of indicators such as palatability, digestibility and growth; (4) a list of tested feed formulas, or recipes, and their results; (5) standard research protocols for testing new feed ingredients and diet formulations.
FIN’s algae database includes over 130 algae suppliers and nutrient profiles on 88 species that can be readily used as fish oil substitutes in feed production.
Aquaculture feeds formulated with more sustainable ingredients must retain the nutritional and physical characteristics of the ingredients they have replaced.
FIN shares experimental protocols to test ingredient performance on fish physiology and overall health to assist both ingredient suppliers to successfully market their products to aquafeed companies and for aquafeed companies to consider adopting new ingredients into their feed.
For related F3 news see https://carnivore.f3challenge.org/news/
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