Baltic Blend fish feed is produced by nutrient recycling

Raisioaqua manufactures the Baltic Blend brand of fish feed, the production of which reduces the nutrient load that causes eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. Raisioaqua is the only company in the world to produce fish feed by nutrient recycling. The feed is produced by Salmonfarm, a fish farm located in the village of Kasnäs. Salmonfarm began production of fish oil and fishmeal in 2016.

The raw material for the feed is Baltic herring and Baltic sprat, which are highly abundant in the Baltic Sea. As they grow the fish remove nutrients from the water, removing an average of four grams of phosphorus and 27.5 grams of nitrogen per kilogram of fish. The fish are processed to produce fishmeal and fish oil, both of which Raisioaqua uses to manufacture Baltic Blend at its factory. The fish feed is then delivered to Raisioaqua’s customers, fish farmers.

Nutrition cycles operate on a fairly simple principle. Fish farming always releases some amount of phosphorus and nitrogen into the waterways. Phytoplankton bind these nutrients, and is itself consumed by animal plankton. Because fish then eat the animal plankton, fishing transfers the bound nutrients from the sea to land.

Moreover, replacing imported fish feed with locally produced feed is highly beneficial for the environment. In 2017, the production of farmed fish in Finland was about 13 million kilograms of uncleaned fish. Before the launch of Baltic Blend fish feed, industrial operations resulted in the release of about 60,000 kg of phosphorus and about 507,000 kg of nitrogen into the Baltic Sea. Thanks to Baltic Blend, 16,000 kilos more phosphorus were removed from the Baltic in 2017 than were produced by all the commercial fish farming in Finland. The nitrogen load in the same year fell by 75 per cent.

“If someone still says that fish farming creates nutrient loads in the Baltic Sea, for instance in the form of phosphorus, then we can say with certainty that the opposite is true. We are delighted that the market share of Baltic Blend fish feed is already around 50 per cent”, says Raisioaqua chief operating officer Tomi Kantola.

Beneficial fish

Baltic Blend fish feed is also used in the production of the prestigious Benella brand of fish products. The Benella range includes whitefish, rainbow trout and pike-perch products. The brand is owned by Raisio, and fish production for the brand is based entirely on the contract cultivation model. There are currently 18 fish farms throughout Finland that supply Raisio, and each has their own separate supplier contract with Raisio.

One provision of the contract model for all the suppliers is that Benella products must always contain the right amounts of EPA and DHA fatty acids. These fatty acids play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. To ensure that the fish contain sufficient amounts of fatty acids, at the early breeding stage more rapeseed oil and only a small proportion of fish oil are used in the feed. In the final stages, the proportions are reversed.

“Without the final stage of breeding the fish would not develop the EPA and DHA fatty acids that are important for humans. Fish can thrive even without them. We ensure that the breeders have instructions on how to increase the fish oil content of the fish feed by about 500 grams before the fish are killed and cleaned. This ensures that the fatty acid levels increase”, Kantola explains.

In the relatively short time since the Benella range was launched, it has been very well received. For example, Benella products are included in the Pirkka parhaat series of exceptional-quality products that are sold in K Group shops, and have been used by Kotipizza in its pizzas and in its brand logo. Even Michelin-class gourmet restaurants use Benella products in their dishes, not only in Finland but also in Russia and Sweden. Restaurateurs value the same things as ordinary consumers.

“For consumers, buying Benella products is a convenient choice for the benefit of the Baltic Sea. Exceptionally high-quality Finnish fish is not only good for humans but also for the environment”.

Taking fish farming to a new level with digitalisation

Raisioaqua also wants to be a pioneer in digitalisation, and has developed its Growth Sonar app for this purpose. From its beginnings as an Excel spreadsheet-type digital tool for fish farmers, Growth Sonar has developed with the help of Raisio’s partners into a sophisticated fish stock management tool that works on computers and smartphones.

“This is an app that basically allows the user to transfer their fish stock monitoring to electronic format. The pool-specific data that is input is transferred to the mobile app, allowing the user to have access to information on their stock wherever they go”.

This way, the breeder can easily keep track of the biomass in the pools, and of the quantity and weight of the fish in each pool. This determines how much feed the fish must be given.

“The app makes use of the feed factor to update the data correctly, based on fish size for example. The application continually calculates the right amount of feed to be given, and at its most convenient the breeder need only approve the correct readings from the application. If the breeder wants to administer different amounts of feed, the app allows the amounts to be increased or decreased”.

The application also calculates many other factors, such as the number of kilos of waste produced in cleaning the fish and economic information such as the price for fish fry and the final yield of the fish.

In practice, everything is aimed at precisely targeted optimisation of fish farming. Raisioaqua can develop its own operations with the aid of the collected data. Instead of general recommendations, it is possible to get specific recommendations for each breeding unit and to take account of the special conditions in the facilities much more precisely than was previously possible.

 

Lisätiedot

Tomi Kantola
Director | Raisioaqua Oy
+358 50 653 04 | tomi.kantola@raisio.com