Salmon Feed is Slowly Changing

Senior scientists Trine Ytrestøyl and Turid Synnøve Aas at Nofima are among the authors of the report. Photo: Terje Aamodt ©Nofima.

F​or the fifth time since 2010, the Norwegian Food Research Institute (Nofima) has compiled an overview of ingredients used in Norwegian salmon feed. The documentation is based on feed in 2020 from the four largest feed companies. It shows that the composition of feed for Norwegian farmed salmon is approximately the same as in the previous report in 2016. The same applies to the salmon’s utilization of the feed. There has been a small increase in the volume of both feed and farmed salmon.

But there is one small and important change: “Some new ingredients, such as insect meal, single cell protein, fermented products and microalgae were used,” says Turid Synnøve Aas.

Dr. Aas is a researcher in feed and nutrition at Nofima and is the main author behind the recent report on the utilization of feed resources in Norwegian salmon farming. This report was produced with data in 2020 and is an update of the corresponding report from 2016.

“The report provides a basis for decision-makers on how we can use the resources and manage them in the best possible way,” says Dr. Aas.

In this latest report, new feed ingredients such as insect meal, single cell protein, fermented products and microalgae were included. These accounted for a small proportion, only 0.4% of the total volume of salmon feed, or 8000 tons in total. In 2020, a total of 1.98 million tons of ingredients were used and 1.47 million tons of salmon and 0.9 million tons of rainbow trout were produced.

salmon feed fish farm Norway

Salmon fish farm, Norway. ©MariusLtu

Much is imported

The Government has set a goal that more of the salmon feed should be produced from Norwegian resources, and that all feed should be from sustainable sources. This report from Nofima provides indications of how the fish feed is doing from the start.

“Feed is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the aquaculture industry,” says Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Bjørnar Skjæran. “It is therefore crucial that more manufacturers use new, sustainable raw materials. In the next few years, we must see a sharp increase in the use of sustainable raw materials produced in Norway. This can lay the foundation for a new industrial adventure along the coast.”

Eight percent of the ingredients for fish feed in 2020 were produced in Norway and 92% were imported. Norway only supplied fish oils and fishmeal to the feed, so new ingredients such as insect meal were not produced locally as of 2020.

“The government has a goal that all feed for aquaculture will come from sustainable sources by 2030, and we will thus create a new industry here. If we are to succeed in finding the best and most effective solutions, industry, research, and politics must work together,” says Dr. Skjæran.

The researchers have also documented the country or area of origin for almost all the ingredients. The report shows that just over 10% of these ingredients came from Russia in 2020.

Salmon feed in 2020 consisted of 12% fishmeal, 10% fish oil, 41% vegetable protein sources, 20% vegetable oils, 13% carbohydrate sources and 4% micro-ingredients. In addition, 0.4% of new ingredients such as insect meal and microalgae were used. Bente Torstensen, former researcher in fish nutrition and now head of the aquaculture division at Nofima, thinks this is promising, despite the low number.

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