The increased demand for fish is driving the aquaculture sector toward developing and adopting new, sustainable land-based sources of key feed ingredients, including high-value specialty ingredients such as omega-3 oils (DHA + EPA).
The omega-3 oil supply from ocean-harvested fish is particularly important for farmed salmon. It is also essential for human nutrition and provides proven benefits for heart health. As demands for omega-3 oils are growing in both salmon farming and nutraceutical markets, supply is expected to run low in the near future.
In 2019, 4.5 million tonnes of fish feed was used globally for salmon farming. Although it can vary by geographic location, fish oil represents 24% of the contents making up this fish feed. This equates to 2,380 million pounds of fish oil consumed in salmon feed production.
The combined omega-3 market is expected to double in the next 5 years. The demand from salmon farming alone is expected to be approximately 7% per year going forward, according to the 2020 Salmon Handbook.
To address this demand, Yield10 signed an exclusive collaboration agreement in 2020 with UK-based Rothamsted Research, an agricultural research institute that is developing engineered Camelina lines that produce approximately 20% of EPA + DHA fatty acids through their Flagship Project.
Camelina has been grown extensively since medieval times for oil and protein. Today, however, we know that it provides proven health benefits that conscious consumers want to experience. Specifically, Camelina oil contains the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which is known to improve cardiovascular health.
Furthermore, the Rothamsted Institute has developed engineered Camelina lines that produce approximately 20% of EPA + DHA fatty acids, similar to the composition of Northern Hemisphere fish oil.
As a source of omega-3 fatty acids, Camelina oil is a highly valuable product on the nutraceutical market and can become a key functional ingredient in the food industry as it can be used in frying, baking, food preparation, flavoring, and other types of cooking.
Health-conscious consumers continue to choose vegetable oils that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Because of this, the global edible market is predicted to witness substantial growth in demand for unrefined, unprocessed, healthy oils such as the one produced by Camelina.
After Camelina seeds are processed for oil extraction, they leave behind a protein. On a dry basis, the meal contains approximately 30-35% protein, with a good amino acid profile for feed applications.
The protein meal left behind by Camelina has been approved for use in some animal feed applications, offering a solution for the growing global demand for additional, land-based protein sources.
As demonstrated in chicken feeding studies, Camelina meal with low PHA levels as an energy source is bioavailable and it also improves feed conversion efficiency.
In both animal and aquaculture feed, the protein meal from Camelina has been shown to have beneficial pre-biotic effects that provide some level of protection against pathogens.