Trends in using plant protein for aquaculture feed

Using plant-based proteins to supplement fish meal has been a part of aquaculture for decades. Fish feed comes from harvesting fish species such as anchovies, herring, menhaden, and sardines. The fish are then chopped up, dried, and converted to food pellets. However, over-fishing of these source foods has been increasingly under the keen watch of environmentalists and regulators who are worried about depleting these valuable resources. As aquaculture production is catching up to wild-caught products in terms of total tonnage consumed worldwide, using fish meal feed alone is becoming more expensive and it doesn’t add to the sustainability of the source.

Aquaculture farmers have been paying attention. As an example of how the industry is moving toward a plant-based protein source as a preferred alternative, fishmeal use in aquaculture farms was greater than 50% in 1995 and is predicted to be less than 10% for various species by the end of 2020. Taking this into consideration with the growth of aquaculture, it only makes sense to look for less costly, more sustainable sources.

There are some challenges to using plant-based proteins alone as a feed, including anti-nutritional factors (ANFs), amino acid profiles, fatty acid profiles, mineral profiles, palatability, and mycotoxin (molds). All of these factors can affect the growth rate and health of the subject being fed. A precise balance between fish meal and alternative sources like plant-based proteins is essential to the wellbeing of the aquaculture industry.

ST Equipment & Technology’s proprietary triboelectrostatic dry separation process can generate high protein ingredients for aquafeed, from distillers grain, brewers spent grain and oilseeds. This will become increasingly more important as the world population grows and the demand for aquaculture food increases with it.