DuPont signs sustainable salmon farming contract in Chile

DuPont and fish producer AquaChile are working together to formulate a new diet for farmed salmon that reduces the need for wild-caught feeder fish by 75 percent.

The farming of salmon and trout is global business estimated to be worth some $10 billion. Once a luxury food, salmon is now one of the most popular species of fish in the United States, Europe and Japan -- and about 60 percent (or 1.26 million metric tons) of the world's salmon comes from fish farms.

The cold, hard truth: people like their fish. And there's no end in sight: the sector grows 6 to 10 percent each year.

One of the strategies to support that kind of demand without fostering poor aquaculture practices is through the reduction in the use of feeder fish in the farmed salmon diet.

Feeder fish are problematic because a diet based on them is high in polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a carcinogenic chemical compound found in industrial waste, according to a 2004 study published in the journal Science.

DuPont and fish producer AquaChile announced on Tuesday that they were working together to formulate a new diet that reduces the need for wild-caught feeder fish by 75 percent.

The diet is based on a new yeast-based feed ingredient developed by biotechnology researchers at DuPont that it says provides an alternative source of long-chain Omega-3 acids.

Seven years in the making, the product is protected by some 55 patents, DuPont says.

Currently, about 9 lbs. of feeder fish are used to produce the fish oil needed to raise just over 2 lbs. of farmed salmon. The new diet requires 1 lb. of wild fish per lb. of salmon, but maintains Omega-3 levels.

AquaChile has already rolled out the new diet in its commercial farms in the Patagonia region of Chile. (Chile and Norway are collectively responsible for two-thirds of the world's farmed salmon.) The first salmon from these farms will be introduced to select customers via market testing in the U.S. this September.

For DuPont, it's the latest round in several moves in the aquaculture space. The company also researches and develops seed genetics to improve the yield, productivity and nutritional value of crops, as well as develops packaging for those products to arrive on retail shelves.

This post was originally published on