Evonik and DSM’s alternative omega-3 source initial applications will be salmon aquaculture and pet food. Photo: DSM

Essen, Germany-based Evonik, and Royal DSM, headquartered in Kaiseraugst, Switzerland, have announced their intention to establish a joint venture for omega-3 fatty acid products from natural marine algae for animal nutrition.

This innovation will, according to the partners, enable the production of omega-3 fatty acids for animal nutrition without using fish oil from wild caught fish, a finite resource. Evonik and DSM’s alternative omega-3 source, they say, is the first to offer both EPA and DHA and will be aimed at initial applications in salmon aquaculture and pet food. The companies will together build a commercial-scale production facility in the United States.

DSM Nutritional Products and Evonik Nutrition & Care will each hold a 50% share in the joint venture and co-own the production facility, which will be built at an existing site of Evonik and is expected to come on stream in 2019. The joint venture plans to invest around $200 million USD in the facility ­– $100 million by each party over two years.

The initial annual production capacity will meet roughly 15% of the total current annual demand for EPA and DHA by the salmon aquaculture industry. The set-up of the joint venture, to be named Veramaris, will be headquartered in The Netherlands.

The joint venture follows a joint development agreement, signed in July 2015. Under this agreement, Evonik and DSM have jointly worked on the development of products and the manufacturing process and explored opportunities for commercialization. Both companies achieved positive results in the development of the product while extensively working with the entire value chain, including fish feed producers, fish farmers and retailers.

Under the joint development agreement, DSM and Evonik have successfully produced pilot-scale quantities of the algal oil at DSM’s production facility in Kingstree, South Carolina (United States). Customers will be able to receive sizeable quantities of the product for market development while the construction of the new manufacturing plant is underway.

DSM has expertise in the cultivation of marine organisms including algae and long-established biotechnology capabilities in development and operations. Evonik’s focus has been on developing industrial biotechnology processes and operating competitively large-scale manufacturing sites for fermentative amino acids.

Worldwide fish oil production is approximately one million metric tons per year. Most of the fish oil is used in aquaculture, mainly for fat-rich fish species, such as salmon. The limited wild fish stocks restrict the amount of fish oil available and thus the growth of the aquaculture industry. Currently, the industry uses about 75% of the annual production of fish oil.

Evonik and DSM’s algal oil will offer a sustainable non-fish alternative. As the new algal oil can be applied in feed production in the same way as fish oil, it can easily be introduced by feed and pet food producers. The two companies are also pursuing applications of their algal oil for other aquatic and terrestrial animal species.