TerraVia and Bunge Ltd. announced that they are launching native, whole-algae docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as a sustainable specialty feed ingredient, prioritizing the aquaculture market, which currently uses approximately $3 billion in omega-3 ingredients.
DHA, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, is a critical element for humans, animals and fish to promote healthy growth and development.
AlgaPrime DHA will be produced at the companies' SB Renewable Oils joint venture facility in Brazil, where full product scale-up was reached in late 2015. The joint venture partners will act as exclusive distributors for AlgaPrime DHA.
TerraVia and Bunge also announced that they have reached a definitive commercial supply agreement with one of the world's largest aquaculture feed suppliers. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Under the supply agreement, AlgaPrime DHA is slated to begin incorporation into fish feed for salmonids in the July to August 2016 time frame.
“We're excited to build on our experience in the food and feed ingredients industries to bring a new sustainable and value-added source of DHA to the market at the quality, cost and scale the global aquaculture industry needs,” Bunge chief executive officer Soren Schroder said.
“AlgaPrime DHA is our first major new product from the expanded joint venture with Bunge and could be a real game changer in keeping our oceans healthy by offering a non-marine based, sustainable source of omega-3s to help address the growing 'fish in/fish out' problem today," TerraVia CEO Jonathan Wolfson added. "It provides a far more sustainable, non-fish-based source of DHA to help maintain healthy oceans while improving the nutritional value of seafood for our families.”
Long-chain omega-3s such as DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are critical inputs used extensively in aquaculture feed, with fish oil and fish meal being the main sources. The demand for omega-3s is growing, but the availability of omega-3s from wild-caught ocean fish is limited in nature.
Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing food production systems in the world, and the market is estimated to reach $200 billion annually by 2020. This growth is helping drive increasing demand for long-chain omega-3s, particularly as global supplies of the traditional sources are under serious and increasing pressure from overfishing, quotas and rising demand for human and animal nutrition.
Wild fish and their prey naturally consume microalgae as a source of DHA, making AlgaPrime DHA a replacement option for fish oil or fish meal. AlgaPrime DHA provides a sustainable and efficient source of DHA that can be produced at high volumes to address increasing global demand without endangering fish stocks, the companies explained.
“Aquaculture is becoming an increasingly important contributor to the global food system. To meet the continuing growth in demand for fish oil and fish meal, sustainable alternatives are needed,” said Piers Hart, aquaculture policy officer at World Wildlife Fund in the U.K. “We are eager to see sustainable sources of omega-3-rich oils come to market at scale and reduce pressure on scarce marine resources. The high yield and potentially reduced environmental footprint of algae products produced at SB Renewable Oils in Brazil could make this a more sustainable source of fish feed ingredients.”
The SB Renewable Oils facility adheres to the principles of sustainable production to produce algae-based products with low carbon, water and land use impacts. This is enabled partly by the use of Bonsucro-certified sugarcane as the feedstock, and the joint venture partners are in the process of securing certification against the Chain of Custody standard. Bonsucro is a multi-stakeholder organization that sets standards for the sustainable production of sugar and sugar-derived products at each link of the supply chain, including cultivation, processing and transport.
TerraVia, based in South San Francisco, Cal., is a next-generation food, nutrition and specialty ingredients company that harnesses the power of algae.
Bunge Ltd., based in White Plains, N.Y., is a leading global agribusiness and food company operating in more than 40 countries. Bunge buys, sells, stores and transports oilseeds and grains; processes oilseeds to make protein meal for animal feed and edible oil products; produces sugar and ethanol from sugarcane; mills wheat, corn and rice to make ingredients, and sells fertilizer in South America.