The latest trends in fish meal and fish oil replacement efforts by major shrimp feed companies in Asia

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F3: Emerging trends in alternative feeds for shrimp 
The sixth in the F3 (Future of Fish Feed) webinar 2021 series on July 15 had several Asian feedmillers discussing their progress on the use of alternative ingredients to replace fishmeal and fish oil in shrimp feeds and to reduce reliance on wild-caught fish. Moderator Dr Kevin Fitzsimmons, Chair of the F3 Challenge and Judge, Professor and Director of International Program at the University of Arizona, elaborated why such replacements are needed, “We all know that wild caught fish are declining resources and without replacements aquaculture would be severely impeded and could not grow to feed a world of 9 billion people. Replacements are just around the corner or already here.” Previously, the webinar series had featured the most promising ingredients, insect meals, algal and seed oils, single cell and novel proteins and soy products.

Dr Ewen McLean is Consultant, Aqua Cognoscenti and one of the advisors for the F3 summarised studies on alternative dietary protein for the vannamei shrimp. He said that although there have been several studies on alternative dietary proteins for this shrimp, few have evaluated complete replacement of fishmeal and fewer still transferred these experimental findings to a production setting. McLean described a recent trial to substitute fishmeal with blends of terrestrial protein in vannamei shrimp diets. Most diets matched or exceeded the amino acid profiles of fishmeal. Among the terrestrial proteins in experimental diets was Mr Feed, a product from fermentation of organic waste. After the 8-week trial no differences were recorded between groups. Subsequently fishmeal free diets were tested under field conditions.

Over in Vietnam, Dr Loc Tran, Founder and Director, Minh Phu AquaMekong Co. Ltd, has been conducting trials with F3 feeds. He said, “Fish free feeds fit nicely into super intensive farming. In Vietnam, there is a movement towards super intensive farming with very high stocking density, from 150 PL/m2 to as high as 500PL/m2. The productivity can be 50-100 tonnes/ha.”

However, the challenges include pollution with heavy nitrite loads leading to muscle necrosis (due to Vibrio harveyi) and mass mortality. Diseases such as early mortality syndrome/acute hepatopancreatic necrosis (EMS/AHPND) happen at young stages as well as white faeces disease (WFD). Production cost is high with high water exchange and high feed conversion ratio (FCR). Loc focused on muscle necrosis where the high nitrite led to immune suppression, thinner shell and a higher susceptibility to infections and mass mortality.

Loc described studies on the F3 formulation with plant protein concentrates and products derived from ethanol production replacing fishmeal and fish oil. He uses an EMS challenge to evaluate effectiveness of these ingredients. With novel ingredients at different inclusion rates, a 21-day trial and one day challenge and 10 days post challenge, showed better survival rates through better shrimp health and immune system.

In a full-scale pond trial in Vietnam, in 4 x 1000m3 circular ponds, with 2g shrimp stocked at 200/m3, average daily growth (ADG) of the shrimp fed commercial feeds was 0.36g while that of shrimp fed the F3 feed was 0.45g. After 7 weeks, the harvest size was 22g vs 18g for the commercial feed. For the F3 treatment, there was 23% growth improvement with thicker flesh. More importantly, water was cleaner in the F3 treatment tanks.

Loc concluded that fish free feed is realistic and adapts well in a super intensive farming system. He added that the shrimp taste sweeter and tender. Mclean said that the formulation provides for a less expensive feed. The bottom line is that it works well for the total production cycle. In Vietnam, there is interest to use F3 feed. The F3 formulation for marine shrimp is open access at Feed-Formulas – F3 FIN

Loc Tran presented some data on the efficacy of F3 diets. Source:

PT Suri Tani Pemuka (STP) is the Aquaculture Division of JAPFA Group, a leading livestock and aquaculture conglomerate in Asia. Based in Surabaya, STP produces 300,000 tonnes per year of aquafeeds from five aquafeed mills across Indonesia. In 2016, STP together with 16 teams from around the globe, competed in an F3 challenge to develop aquafeeds free of fishmeal and fish oil.

Initiatives on fish free shrimp feeds
During this webinar, Ardi Budiono, President Director and Dr Erwin Suwendi, Head of Nutrition and Feed Technology, described STP’s initiatives and journey towards fish free feeds. With regards to sustainable shrimp feed, Erwin said that for the last three years, STP has introduced low fishmeal shrimp feeds in the Indonesian market with <8% fishmeal comprising 50% wild caught fish leading to FIFO (Fish in Fish out) ratio of 0.41 and FFIF (feed fish inclusion factor) 0.26. This is much lower than in the 15% fishmeal feed with FFIF of 0.44 and FIFO 0.57. Market acceptance of this low fishmeal diet has been increasing over the last 4 years (since 2017) to 84% of its shrimp feed sales in 2020. As an industry partner, STP works at providing support to farmers and part of this, is to use alternative ingredients.

At Grobest Group which produces 800,000 tonnes of aquafeeds/year, the focus is on providing the best in animal nutrition and health. Jennifer Kuo, Chief Technology Development & Sustainability Officer, said that the group’s sustainability pillars are responsible sourcing for fish free and soybean meal (SBM) free feed for the future. She said that it is possible to replace 100% fishmeal in fish and shrimp feeds. She added that although there are alternative novel ingredients with low carbon footprint, however the challenges are availability in large volumes and at affordable costs.

In 2019, Grobest organised a novel ingredient development team, to search and evaluate alternatives without compromising animal health and feed cost. “There are three alternatives in focus: marine proteins, oil protein and plant protein to achieve more sustainable feed products. Our indicators are nutritional value, digestibility, palatability, amino acid and fatty acid balance, mineral, growth performance, survival and animal health. Research continues in the laboratory and field trials.”

At Pimlico Gold Coin Group, Alexandre Vielle, shrimp nutritionist, is working at developing sustainable shrimp feeds. The group produces 60,000 tonnes of shrimp feeds/year. It produces non- GMO and non- SBM feeds on demand, as well as biofloc and semi biofloc feed with low crude protein. The sustainability engagement at Gold Coin is to reduce use of imported raw materials and use alternative raw materials such as seaweeds, insects and processed animal proteins. The priority is to source from suppliers adopting green energy while its feed production processes are already using solar and green gases. One challenge with novel ingredients is local supply and prices remain high relative to fishmeal. In feeds for biofloc farming, the formulation is adjusted to derive the best from the feed, for the environment and shrimp.

Vielle said, “Developing fully sustainable fishmeal or fish oil free diets is possible but the issue is cost. At present the market is not ready to accept the price for a completely marine animal free diet although the system and template are already in place.”

Sustainable shrimp and feeds
With its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company (CPF) is the largest producer of shrimp feeds at more than 800,000 tonnes from feedmills in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Philippines and Bangladesh. The diets contain only marine byproduct meals at levels of <12%. Today, most of the nutritional R&D is to identify alternative protein and oil sources (such as insect meals, microbial byproducts, alternative plant meals and algal and plant oils) and balance, as well as optimise shrimp performance.

It is not just feeds and Robins McIntosh, Executive Vice President, described CPF’s recent ideas on sustainable shrimp in the US. This is the project by a CPF subsidiary called Homegrown Shrimp USA. The concept — which is more sustainable than previous ones – is to grow shrimp anywhere and anytime and supply fresh healthy shrimp. Its location will not impact the coastal environment. There is complete recycling of water and production is on a small footprint. The farm has a hatchery to supply post larvae to US and Europe. McIntosh described the facilities.  The target production from 20 tanks, each of 100 tonnes is 500kg in the initial phase. It will be 5kg/m3 of 22-24g shrimp (size 26/30 headless) from 90 days/ cycle (inclusive of 10 days for cleaning). With 4 cycles/year, production will reach 180 tonnes/year. Sludge is dried up with an animal waste dehydrator.

Recognising that feed is an important part of the sustainable story, McIntosh said that the feeds have zero marine and animal meals and minimal use of agriculture meals. Only plant and algal oils are used with a special binder to minimise leaching. Since 2013, CPF has been developing a shrimp breed specific for fast growth on non-marine and oil diets. He showed the performance of this line fed on non-marine meals and oil diets (soy and rapeseed oil; protein soy, wheat, corn gluten, pea protein) as compared with CPF’s fast-growing turbo shrimp line fed on regular commercial diets.

Work in progress
Developing fishmeal and fish oil free diets are  in progress for these aquafeed companies. None of them have such feeds on the market. Erwin says that sometimes, replacing marine meal, feeds can cost more. While Vielle says that there is a mindset of consumers that vegetarian shrimp should not be more expensive than shrimp fed regular diets, an all-plant based fed shrimp can be for niche markets. The main market will still be shrimp fed sustainable feeds – yet at low cost feeds using byproducts. Key to sustainability rather than focusing on 100% plant-based diets, is the diversity of raw materials and using byproducts and reducing waste. McIntosh emphasised that through breeding, “We can bring down costs – by creating a shrimp that can consume a vegetable diet more efficiently.”

While most insect meals will be potential alternatives to fishmeal, preferences toward meals from the black soldier fly (BSF) and meal worms were indicated, based on the opinion that these are more similar to fish meal. Key concerns are quantity, production technology and economy of scale.
Fitzsimmons said that the F3 team recognises that rendered products are likely to be sustainable overall. But for the contest purposes, there is no way to determine whether the fishmeal is from rendered products or wild caught and therefore the challenge mentions no marine protein. “Sometime in the future, maybe we could differentiate, perhaps with DNA fingerprinting type work. Our main goal is to address our forage fish problem which is both an ecological and an economic problem as well as a human welfare issue.

This article is based on  F3 webinar: Emerging trends in alternative feeds for shrimp , July 15. Webinars – f3meeting

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