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Millennial Salmon Project maximizes the inclusion of algae-based omega-3s

Corbion’s algae-based omega-3 liquid suspension can be used at varying inclusion levels and up to three times the industry standard.

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March 4, 2024

Corbion unveiled preliminary results of a new study from the Millennial Salmon Project, a strategic partnership among organizations along the value chain of salmon production. Conducted by Nofima and recently published in Aquaculture, the study shows that AlgaPrime™ DHA can be added at varying levels without negatively impacting feed quality, and actually promotes a more stable process and pellet quality.

Primarily funded by the Research Council of Norway and made up of leading organizations Nofima, InnovaFeed, Corbion, Cargill, MOWI, Labeyrie Fine Foods, SINTEF Ocean and Auchan, the Millennial Salmon Project aims to create the world’s most sustainable farmed salmon using novel ingredients with a low carbon footprint and a focus on the circular economy.

The first round of research sought to determine optimal inclusion levels of AlgaPrime™ DHA LS — Corbion’s algae-based omega-3 DHA-rich ingredient in liquid suspension — in feed for Atlantic salmon, evaluating the ingredient’s effect on the feed production process. Variables examined included: physical pellet quality, expansion parameters and microstructure and later its digestibility. AlgaPrime™ DHA can be incorporated at two different points in the feed production process: into the mix prior to extrusion and during pellet coating. Therefore, the maximum levels of AlgaPrime™ DHA inclusion in both points were studied.

An array of diets was produced and tested, from a control feed using fishmeal and soy protein concentrate to feeds with high inclusion levels of AlgaPrime™ DHA LS. Applying a method that enables numerous comparisons, researchers determined that the inclusion of 100 g/kg AlgaPrime™ DHA LS in the mixture was commercially interesting, considering the levels of lipids mostly used in the feed mix.

Based on the industry standard practices, researchers tested AlgaPrime™ DHA LS in the pellet coating process and were able to add up to 14% inclusion in a final feed with 36% lipids, which is far above the relevant industrial application levels of omega-3.

In an uncommon study design that combines the technical application and nutrition science and after the feed production trials, the research group then looked at four diets containing AlgaPrime™ DHA in the mix, the coating, and a combination of the two, using AlgaPrime™ DHA LS at 10% and 20% inclusions. All four diets showed high nutrient digestibility in Atlantic salmon. For reference, with the inclusion of 8% of AlgaPrime™ DHA LS is possible to replace a 10% inclusion of fish oil in diets with the same omega-3 levels.

“These findings represent an important step for fish nutrition, illustrating the viability of sustainability gains by increasing the use of ingredients with high concentrations of omega-3, something a reliance on fish oil alone could not accomplish,” the company said.

“The application of AlgaPrime™ DHA at different inclusion rates minimizes manufacturing process constraints due to its high omega-3 DHA content, optimal lipid level, ideal mixability, and thermostability, giving feed manufacturers a new tool to explore and develop omega-3 DHA inclusions and advance nutrition for health,” said Cristian Atienza, technical application manager at Corbion.

AlgaPrime™ DHA LS is made from a single-cell algae strain grown at scale using industrial fermentation to produce DHA while ensuring feasibility for feed manufacturers and salmon producers. With a higher DHA concentration compared to fish oil and other alternatives, the inclusion of AlgaPrime™ DHA LS in feed can maintain or raise omega-3 levels in healthy diets, reducing the dependency on fish oil, and thereby helping to preserve the environment.

“As a leading global player in sustainable nutrition, Corbion is constantly seeking to create new innovative and sustainable solutions, and we are pleased that the results of this study affirm the technical performance of AlgaPrime™ DHA LS is enabling the industry to use a sustainable source of omega-3 at high inclusion levels,” said Tim Rutten, vice president of Nutrition at Corbion.