Press release

DSM and Evonik take next step in sustainable aquaculture: Veramaris® facility starts commercial production

Kaiseraugst, CH, 10 Jul 2019 14:00 CEST

Royal DSM, a global science-based company in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living, today together with Evonik celebrated the grand opening of their Veramaris® 50-50 joint venture’s commercial-scale US$200 million production facility located in Blair, Neb. (USA). This new site has begun commercial production of omega-3 fatty acids rich in EPA and DHA from natural marine algae for sustainable salmon farming. This innovation helps to reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks, supports the aquaculture industry to sustainably meet the rapidly growing global demand for seafood, and enables healthier fish for the consumer. 

Three billion people today rely on marine fish for food. Especially salmon is a rich source of the two essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are vital for brain, eye and heart health. Spiraling demand for seafood and the consequent pressure on overfishing has fueled the growth of fish farms. Aquaculture, however, compounds the burden on wild fish stocks, since 20% of the wild catch is used to make feed for farmed fish and 75% of all fish oil produced is currently fed to farmed fish.

In response to a limited, finite availability of fish oil along with soaring demand for seafood, the level of omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids in salmon has declined by more than a half over the past decade. This development is not supportive for consumers looking for a healthy food option. Furthermore, the limited wild fish stocks restrict the amount of fish oil available and thus the growth of the aquaculture industry.

Veramaris® algal oil offers a sustainable alternative: Veramaris® algal oil goes right back to the source - algae are the original source of omega-3 fatty acids - making it possible to leave all marine life between the original phytoplankton and algae untouched. The highly concentrated algal oil contains twice the levels of EPA and DHA than fish oil. For the first time, it will enable the aquaculture industry to keep up with the increasing demand for these two essential omega-3 fatty acids and help to reverse the decline of these vital omega-3 levels in farmed salmon without any reliance on fish oil obtained from wild fish stocks. The salmon industry has welcomed this solution and first premium salmon products have been launched by leading retailers across Europe.

The Veramaris® facility’s initial production capacity of Omega-3 fatty acids rich in EPA & DHA is equivalent to that derived from 1.2 million tons of wild-caught fish. This will meet around 15% of the global salmon farming industry's annual demand for Omega-3 fatty acid – a significant contribution to conserving the biodiversity in our oceans.

Feike Sijbesma, CEO/Chairman DSM Managing Board commented: “I am pleased that together with Evonik we have reached a key milestone in turning the tide: through Veramaris®, we are able to reduce the aquaculture industry’s reliance on the world’s finite fish oil resources for these vital omega-3 fatty acids. This fits perfectly with our purpose-led performance driven strategy, focused on addressing the world’s biggest challenges while simultaneously creating economic, environmental and societal value for all our stakeholders.”

DSM is a leading global integrated nutritional solutions provider to the feed markets with an industry leading portfolio of innovative feed ingredient solutions for aquaculture, a strategic growth segment for its animal nutrition & health business. Veramaris® combines DSM’s expertise in the cultivation of marine organisms including algae and long-established expertise in fermentation processes with Evonik’s know-how in the development of industrial biotechnology processes and operating competitively large-scale manufacturing sites for fermentative amino acids.

“In Veramaris®, we have combined the competencies of two strong partners to make an innovative contribution to the healthy nutrition of the world’s growing population, without putting any further burden on our oceans,” said Christian Kullmann, chairman of the Executive Board of Evonik.

Construction of the new facility was completely on time, on budget and with no lost-time incidents.

Evonik’s existing site in Blair was selected to produce the omega-3 fatty acids to take advantage of the fermentative production capacity at the site and the favorable site infrastructure. The Veramaris® production will be a zero-waste facility including concepts to utilize by-products in sustainable applications, such as biogas and cattle feed.