Chilean salmon to enjoy a healthier, more natural diet

Salmon producers considering the benefits of feeding farmed fish insect-based feed.

Chile, one of the largest salmon producers in the world — second to only Norway — is considering using insect-based salmon feed in a bid to improve the development, size and the overall health of farmed salmon.

“More than fattening, the focus of this project is on the fish’s physiological development at the fingerling stage, so the smelting phase is overcome successfully,” said Claudio Pavez, project coordinator.

Scientists will strive to develop a new ingredient to be used in insect-based feed, which will be used on salmon and trout up to 10 grams in weight — the first feeding stage in freshwater.

Salmon at fingerling stage feed on insects in its natural environment, as opposed to the fish-based feed used in typical salmon farming. The new feed will therefore allow stocks to replicate the natural feeding habits of fingerling salmon.

Pavez also explained insect-based feed tends to be higher in protein — anywhere between 40-70 percent —and fatty acids vital for healthy growth can be up to 40 percent. So overall, insect-based feed offers more in terms of nutritional value.

The insects used in the salmon feed will be produced in specially designed greenhouses based in Puerto Montt in the south of Chile. Over five metric tons of insects will be produced every week.

However, the project is still very much in the experimental phase with production testing due to start during the first half of 2014. By the end of 2014, feeding tests are planned and industry application pencilled in for 2015.

Nutrition and supply company Crandon Chile is managing the initiative alongside innovation and prototype development company P@TAGON. US$400,000 will be at their disposal, raised through public funding from the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation and private investment from Denmark-based fish feed supplier Biomar.

Biomar will contribute to the diet stage formulation of the new feed and testing at production levels.

Chile’s is one of the world’s largest producers of salmon and is the country’s third largest industry following mining and forestry.The Andean nation the main salmon supplier to the U.S., Japan, and Brazil.