Circular fish feed via insects

Our food should preferably not eat our food. This is one of the basic ideas behind the project "5 tonnes of green fish in the counter" that Axfoundation operates together with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Farmed fish is often fed cereals, soy and wild-caught fish. We want to test substitution of general feed with insects that have eaten organic waste such as peel, cores and bread waste.

85 % of the commercial fish population in the oceans is used to its maximum or even overused.

85 % of the commercial fish population in the oceans is used to its maximum or even overused.

The Issue

The global population increases while 85 % of the commercial fish population in the oceans is used to its maximum, or even overused. Fish farms are often seen as a possible solution for providing humans with seafood, without increasing the pressure on the oceans. About half of the seafood in the global market today is farmed.

A problem with farmed fish however, is that the feed often consists of large quantities of soy, cereals and wild-caught fish i.e. food suitable for human consumption. Global fish farming thus contributes negatively to the global food supply.

“Today, our food supply system battles with big problems concerning waste and the re-uptake of nutrients. Less than half of our food waste today is used in some way, and on top of that it’s often done through ineffective systems when it comes to the handling of nitrogen and phosphorus.” – Madeleine Linins Mörner, Axfoundation

Our Solution

Since 2017 the EU allows insects to be used for fish feed. Hence, it is possible to solve the problem with unsustainably produced fish feed and utilize the unused food waste as a resource. The aim of the project 5 tonnes of green fish in the counter is to develop a sustainable and circular fish feed. The idea is that bread and vegetable waste such as peel and cores can become food for insects which are then processed into fish feed. These insects, together with other domestic raw materials, could replace parts of the fishmeal, fish oil, cereals and soya concentrate used today.

Vegetable waste and bread can become food for insects which are then processed into fish feed.

Vegetable waste and bread can become food for insects which are then processed into fish feed.

It’s very likely that EU’s rules will eventually change and allow for other animals such as chicken and pig to be given insect feed. Hopefully this solution will then further contribute to the development of a sustainable society, circular food production and increased profitability.

”Our food should (preferably) not eat our food.”- Madeleine Linins Mörner, Axfoundation

Our Work

Axfoundation has, through financing from Vinnova, together with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Eskilstuna Enegi & Miljö, Grönsakshallen Sorunda, Axfood and Älvdalslax and others, launched the project 5 tonnes of green fish in the counter. The aim is to build an infrastructure for converting vegetable-based waste streams into quality protein raw material. The projects four main objectives are:

  • Producing at least five metric tonnes of Swedish eco-friendly salmon of high gastronomic quality
  • Producing a circular based fish feed without importing any new nutrients into the Baltic basin
  • Supporting the development of circular based food ingredients
  • Supporting Swedish municipalities’ environmental effort as part of a circular food production

Results

So far, the fish feed has been tested on a small scale. The results have been positive; the fish grow at the same rate as the reference fish and in a taste evaluation done by experts, the fish fed on insects tasted more like wild-caught fish than the reference fish fed on traditional feed.

  • An increased demand for Swedish environmentally friendly farmed fish
  • Support for the development of commercially viable forms of production in Sweden of alternative feed
  • The marketing of Swedish fish as a sustainable alternative
  • Increased production and sales of environmentally friendly produced fish

The insects also produce a highly potent fertilizer when they process organic waste, apart from adding protein and fat to the fish feed.

Partners

The project had a total of 15 partners: Axfoundation, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Grönsakshallen Sorunda, Fiskhallen Sorunda, Axfood, Älvdalslax AB, Sweco Environment AB, Eskilstuna Strängnäs Energi & Miljö AB, Raisio Sverige AB, RH Grythyttan Örebro universitet, RISE Processum AB, Mycorena AB, Marine Biogas/Feed AB, Härnösands Energi & Miljö AB, Matfiskodlarna Sverige AB, Lantmännen Lantbruk.

The project also comprises of eight associated partners, including five land-based circular cultivation sites for fish, and ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) Sverige, the Beijer institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Jordbruksverkets (The Swedish Board of Agriculture) vattenbrukskansli.

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