he Fish Site reports an update to the Fish-Free Feed (F3) Challenge, which was launched in November 2015 on the HeroX crowdfunding site. The competition is intended to encourage innovation of alternative ingredients for aquaculture feeds, improve the industry’s sustainability and reduce pressure on wild-caught fish to supply fish feed components. So far, eight multi-national teams have qualified to participate in the competition.
Not only is the contest intended to help catalyze the development and sale of cost-competitive, viable aquafeeds free of fishmeal and fish oils, the first company to produce and sell 100,000 metric tons (MT) of feeds that do not contain marine animal meal or oil will be awarded more than $200,000 to support their fish-free aquafeed business.
Contestants range from companies with their own mills and farms with multinational sales and hundreds of employees to start-up farms and ingredient companies with just a dozen employees. One of these smaller companies is Belgium-based TomAlgae, a manufacturer of micro-algae for use as a shrimp feed. TomAlgae’s freeze-dried feed is rich in omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA making it ideal for shrimp during the earliest life stages.
“We want to replace the live algae used in hatcheries,” said TomAlgae CEO, William van der Riet, speaking to The Fish Site.
“There is an enormous technology gap in the early stages. They rely on a very artisanal way of producing their own feed when they should be relying on feed with quality that is consistent from day to day.”
Under ideal conditions, about 100 grams of the freeze-dried microalgae (which is rehydrated before use) could feed one million shrimp larvae and produce about 15 tons of shrimp meat. Though TomAlgae produces a perfect candidate for the 100 per cent F3 product, noted Mr van der Riet, the sustainable product is going to find it hard to compete to meet the 100,000 MT target in order to win the grand prize.