In a recent special study, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations noted, "…the amount of fish that can be produced annually from the wild is finite. Thus, much research has focused on finding replacements for fishmeal and fish oil in fish feeds."[1]

Verlasso uses yeast as a replacement for fish oil in feed. In doing so, we are able to reduce our dependence on feeder fish without compromising the health—or quality—of the fish we raise.

In simple terms, the use of yeast as a “helper” ingredient is not new. Both beer brewing and winemaking rely on this simple organism, which acts as a catalyst in the fermentation process. In baking, yeast is the leavening agent that makes dough rise.

Algae, which naturally makes small amounts of omega-3s, have served as our “blueprint” for producing larger quantities of omega-3s. We’ve isolated algae’s omega-3-producing capability and given it to our yeast. The variety of yeast we use is also used in food production.

As they grow, the yeast cells are fed a simple sugar (glucose) and salt. The yeast metabolizes these ingredients, converting them into both protein and omega-3 fatty acids in a process called fermentation. The result of our fermentation is used in our salmon’s feed in place of fish oil. Our fish’s diet combines protein and omega-3s from the fermented yeast with protein from feeder fish for comprehensive nutrition.

We developed our new feed recipe not to minimize costs but to offset the demand placed on the ocean’s feeder fish. In addition, by feeding our fish a fish oil replacement, we can significantly reduce the level of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) associated with salmon fed a 100% feeder-fish diet.

Feed Efficiency

We measure the effectiveness of our salmon’s diet using an industry-standard feed conversion ratio, or FCR. This is one way to determine how efficiently the fish convert what they eat into body mass. Generally, the lower the FCR, the more efficient the feed.

Salmon are very efficient at converting feed. It’s possible to raise about five times more salmon on one pound of feed compared to beef cattle fed the same pound. Likewise, you can get about two and a half times more salmon than pork from a pound of feed. These numbers can vary based on location, agricultural conditions, season, weather and many other factors. But you can be assured that Verlasso salmon are a highly efficient use of natural resources.

Our innovative diet is one of the ways we’re able to feed our fish exactly what they need, and no more. We also use underwater cameras to monitor the feed, so it doesn’t pass through the pens uneaten. This is part of our conscientious approach to ensuring our fish’s health while minimizing environmental impact.

Fish Meal and Fish Oil

Verlasso is unique in its Forage Fish Dependency Ratio (FFDR) for fish oil. The fact that we have a 1:1 ratio for fish oil in particular, without compromising omega-3 content, is unprecedented and represents a fundamental change in salmon aquaculture.

Sources
  1. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2008, Part 3: Highlights of Special Studies.
  2. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Livestock, Environment and Development (LEAD) Initiative, coordinated by FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division, 2006.