The numerous options and benefits of alternative protein show a promising path of adaptation and large-scale commercialization toward a future where feed can be affordable, readily available and resilient. Due to growing awareness of the environmental consequences of intensive agriculture practices, as well as flat or declining wild harvests, aquaculture is expected to continue expanding its footprint as an essential worldwide protein. Aquaculture has grown quickly enough to keep up with demand so far; however, the industry’s reliance on wild-caught feed is taking a toll on wild fish stocks. Currently, 70 to 80 percent of aquaculture feed consists of wild-caught fishmeal and oil, and approximately 10 percent of wild-caught fish are used to feed farmed fish.
With dwindling fish stocks, both aquaculture and terrestrial farmers are turning to emerging farmed, byproducts or invasive species alternatives. While plant-based options, such as soy, have been available for years, they are compromised by inadequacies in fatty acid and amino acid profiles, and rely on production practices with negative environmental impacts. These plant-based feed issues are increasingly top of mind for various stakeholders, including consumers, financiers, certifying agencies and NGOs.