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Germany: Fish Farming and Animal Nutrition DSM and Evonik Establish Joint Venture for Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Natural Marine Algae

Editor: MA Alexander Stark |

Royal DSM and Evonik announced their intention to establish a joint venture for omega-3 fatty acid products from natural marine algae for animal nutrition — enabling fish farming without using fish-based resources.

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Norwegian fish farm in a fjord near Trondheim, Norway
Norwegian fish farm in a fjord near Trondheim, Norway
(Source: © shutterstock / Evannovostro)

Essen/Germany — According to the joint venture, their technology would enable the production of omega-3 fatty acids for animal nutrition without using fish oil from wild caught fish, adding that their alternative omega-3 source would be the first to offer both EPA and DHA. Initial applications are aimed at salmon aquaculture and pet food. The companies plan to build a commercial-scale production facility in the United States.

The algal oil from DSM and Evonik would enable salmon farming without using fish-based resources.

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 in the facility. According to the companies, the initial annual production capacity would meet about 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 and headquartered in The Netherlands, will be finalized subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Joint Development

The joint venture follows the joint development agreement, signed in July 2015. Under this agreement, both companies have jointly worked on the development of products and the manufacturing process and explored opportunities for commercialization. Both companies reported positive results in the development of the product while working with the entire value chain, including fish feed producers, fish farmers and retailers. Under the joint development agreement, the partners have produced pilot-scale quantities of the algal oil at DSM’s production facility in Kingstree, USA.

Customers will be able to receive sizeable quantities of the product for market development while the construction of the new manufacturing plant is underway.


Alternative Source for Pet Food and Beyond

By replacing fish oil in salmon feed with this EPA and DHA rich alternative, the fish-in-fish-out ratio could be reduced significantly. 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. Currently, the industry uses about 75 % of the annual production of fish oil.

Just like humans, animals also need their daily intake of essential, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in their diet to ensure healthy growth. Until now, these fatty acids have been added to aquaculture feed and pet food almost exclusively from marine sources such as fish oil and fishmeal. As the new algal oil can be applied in feed production in the same way as fish oil, it can be introduced by feed and pet food producers, the manufacturers claim.

The joint venture is also pursuing applications of their algal oil for other aquatic and terrestrial animal species.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA

Omega-3 fatty acids are a family of polyunsaturated fats, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Because they are not produced naturally by the body, omega-3s must be obtained from the diet or through supplementation. A large and growing body of evidence shows that sufficient levels of omega-3 EPA and DHA support brain, eye and heart health in multiple species, including humans.

Research suggests that omega-3 EPA and DHA may lower triglyceride levels (lipids) in the blood and may have positive effects on arterial function. Eating seafood twice a week is recommended by multiple health authorities. In a study evaluating the risks and benefits of fish intake published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Jama, researchers found that 1-2 servings of fish per week, especially fish high in omega-3 EPA and DHA, reduced the risk of coronary death by 36 % and total mortality by 17 %.