Bridging the raw material gap

As the global population continues to grow, there is increasing focus on aquaculture to provide the protein to feed the world. At Skretting, as one of the largest aquaculture feed suppliers in the world, we see that we have an essential role to play. A 30 million tonne projected increase in aquaculture production means there will be a need for an additional 45 million tonnes of raw materials. So where will they come from?

Insect meal in commercial Skretting feed

Skretting has built knowledge to understand the use of insects as a feed ingredient in aquafeeds for many years, and has implemented it in commercial feed. “Like all our feed ingredients, we have been proactively working towards fully understanding the complexities of insect protein as an ingredient from a sustainable, nutritional, quality and safety, regulatory and financial perspective,” says Alex Obach, Skretting Innovation Director.

In 2018, Skretting scoured the start-up world and initiated discussions with more than 40 producers of insect ingredients from all over the world. “Through collaborations with research providers and our own in-house research and development facilities, we have tested the performance of products from several companies in key commercial species,” continues Obach.

The results of R&D trials with several species of fish and shrimp have shown a wide variety of results. This was not unexpected, since the insect industry’s activities towards applying their novel ingredients for use in aquaculture feed are still in their infancy. “The key for the success of insect meal is to be aware of the needs of the target market and to have control of ingredient processing conditions to ensure consistent product quality,” says Gunvor Baardsen, Raw Material Coodinator and Senior Researcher at Skretting Aquaculture Innovation (AI).  

The key for the success of insect meal is to be aware of the needs of the target market and to have control of ingredient processing conditions to ensure consistent product quality.
Gunvor Baardsen, Raw Material Coordinator & Senior Researcher, Skretting AI

Working together to ensure commercial success

Skretting has been working with, and providing insight to, insect start-up companies to help support their commercial success.  “We believe that this knowledge will help ensure that the future of aquaculture continues to progress and develop in a responsible and sustainable way,” says Obach.

Some of the key challenges facing the insect industry to successfully enter the aquaculture market are  the small volume availabilities on offer and the currently unfavourable market economics of replacing a high protein ingredient such as fish meal or soy protein concentrate with a more expensive insect protein. “Over time, we expect the volume of insect meal available to the market to increase from a select number of suppliers. However, we do not expect that these volumes
will ever compete at the scale of traditional high protein ingredients used,” continues Obach.

The challenge of incorporating an expensive novel ingredient into a fish or shrimp diet, despite it having positive sustainability credentials, is not an easy one. The success lies with sharing the responsibility within the whole feed-to-food value chain. The use of insects in aquafeeds represents a positive opportunity for multiple stakeholders within the feed-to-food value chain, and - if we succeed - for the future of the aquaculture industry. We are ready.


We need more food, but where is it going to come from?
Aquaculture’s 2050 challenge
What do we mean by 'novel ingredients'?
Insect meal in commercial Skretting feed
Transforming recycled carbon dioxide into protein
Omega-3 from marine algae
Flexibility is key