Clever fish food will save water

Image: Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Switching farmed fish to an alternative diet - that uses no meat and little water - can happen at scale, following completion of a new production plant in China.

The bio-fermentation facility in Chongqing will produce 20,000 tonnes of KindFeed annually for use in aquaculture and, according to the producers, is an important milestone in humanity's race to create a more sustainable and secure food supply.

“Cellular agriculture - where protein is grown in a controlled environment is key to helping the world meet its future food needs."

Alan Shaw, Calysta

“Without innovating and producing alternative proteins, the world’s ever-growing population and appetite for protein-rich diets will place unsustainable pressure on our existing food chains,” said project director Graham Aylen, of Calysseo, a Chinese-US joint venture between animal nutrition company Adisseo and protein innovator Calysta.

The KindFeed family of ingredients can be used not only in aquaculture, as a replacement for wild fish, but also for livestock and even domestic pet food. It is produced via natural fermentation that does not use arable land, animals or plants, and requires very little water compared to other resource-intensive protein sources.

Biofermented proteins can be used for livestock. Image: Kenneth Schipper on Unsplash.

The feed harnesses the power of a naturally occurring microorganism that consumes low cost, land-free carbon sources, converting it into a nutritionally rich protein that is not genetically modified, and is ideal for food and feed applications.

The manufacturer says FeedKind will help reduce pressure on wild fish stocks. Used instead of conventional protein sources, 100,000 tonnes of FeedKind could mean some 420,000 to 450,000 tonnes of wild caught fish could be saved.

As a replacement for vegetable proteins, the same quantity of FeedKind could free up as much as 535km2 of land and save 9 billion litres of water.

Alan Shaw, co-founder and chief executive of Calysta said, “Cellular agriculture - where protein is grown in a controlled environment - is key to helping the world meet its future food needs. For Calysta, this is the result of years of work to develop a protein without limits – one that meets our growing demand for protein while protecting biodiversity.

“For the first time, producers and farmers in China will have the option of using a protein that doesn’t take from the ocean, that doesn’t take from the land – yet delivers all the quality and nutrition demanded by the aquaculture industry.”

The global aquaculture market was estimated to be worth US$9 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to reach over US$240 billion by 2027. The Chongqing plant will initially exclusively supply China, the world’s largest aquafeed market.

“This is a significant milestone as we move towards more sustainable forms of making food," said Jean-Marc Dublanc, chief executive of Adisseo. “We have a long-running commitment to improving the security and sustainability of the feed ingredient market and Calysseo fulfils a significant part of that pledge."

"We’re doing something that has never been achieved before at scale – to reach this milestone in such a short time ... is incredibly rewarding."

Pierre Casamatta, Calysseo,

The partners say the Calysseo plant will directly address one of the most important opportunities in aquaculture – to provide high quality seafood without adding extra pressure to the environment. The global aquaculture market is experiencing strong growth and is expected to become the third largest animal protein source, accounting for more than 100 million tonnes of production.

Pierre Casamatta, co-managing director of Calysseo, added: “Commencing commissioning and start-up activities of our maiden facility on schedule is a moment I’m incredibly proud of. We’re doing something that has never been achieved before at scale – to reach this milestone in such a short time, during the enormously challenging implications of Covid-19, is incredibly rewarding."

Completed Calysseo facility in Chongqing, China.

The first outputs from Calysseo are expected at the turn of the year and the partners are now focussed on raising output to 80,000 tonnes per year. The plant was designed and built by a consortium of Black & Veatch and Shanghai LBT Engineering & Technology, and is located in the Changshou Economic & Technological Development Area (CETDA).

“This inspiring project was only realised by bringing together biotechnology, gas processing and sustainable engineering expertise from across our global organisation," said Narsingh Chaudhary, executive vice president & managing director, Asia Pacific, Black & Veatch. "This first-of-a-kind facility was delivered safely, on time and in the midst of the global pandemic, adding to an already impressive result."

Allan LeBlanc, Calysta’s head of animal feed, said, “I’m proud and excited to finally introduce FeedKind into the world’s largest aquaculture market. Over the years we have proven that FeedKind is an extremely effective product and one that can help resolve several challenges for the Asian aquaculture market.”