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Scale Up

Alltech sees building plants globally for fish oil alternative

October 26, 2016

Alltech plant in Kentucky

Standing eight stories high, the algae production fermenters at Alltech’s plant in Kentucky have a 1.2 million liter capacity and can produce nearly 10,000 tons of dried whole algae annually – which represents less than 1% of total fish oil production globally.

J dropcapason Smith reports for undercurrentnews that Kentucky-based Alltech is willing to invest in overseas algae production plants closer to its feed customers if demand for its products as a fish oil supplement grows, according to Keith Filer. The company’s research coordinator for aquaculture told a crowd of shrimp farmers at Ecuador’s AquaExpo 2016 that’s been part of company founder Thomas “Pearse” Lyons’ vision all along.

“Our concept of where production is going would be to build plants in countries next to production areas where you would remove that algae, you wouldn’t even dry it, just take it, concentrate it, and add it to the feed. You’d save on drying costs, save on transportation costs,” Mr. Filer said.

Alltech is looking at algal oils to replace the depleting fish oils. Its production plant in Winchester, Kentucky can produce nearly 10,000 tons of dried whole algae annually, which represents less than 1% of total fish oil production globally. “That’s why I say when you think about complete replacement of fish oil, certainly one global plant is not going to produce enough algae oil to completely replace fish oil,” he told the audience.

While algae oils can be used as a direct substitute for fish oil, the company has also studied using the oils in a blend with soybean oils. “I would say in terms of performance, you can get equal performance either way. It depends on what your objective is. Certainly if you take out fish oil and replace it with a cheaper oil, your diets become a little cheaper that way,” he said.

The company recently entered into a research project with a Chinese university that tested feeding algal meals to vannamei shrimp larvae as a partial replacement for fish oil. Diets of 2% algal meal boosted growth rates while maintaining fatty acid levels, compared to a control group. Those results are in line with similar trials on fish species, he said.

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