Feed with Low Environmental Impact: Pre-Summit interview with Libby Woodhatch, Executive Chair, MarinTrust

MarinTrust holds the leading standard for the certification of marine ingredients. It is relevant, credible and accessible to all producers. Read this interview covering standardisation and consumer influence on aquafeed ahead of Libby’s roundtable at the Blue Food Innovation Summit.

Libby Woodhatch
Libby Woodhatch, Executive Chair, MarinTrust

What solutions are needed to meet the demand for sustainable, nutritious aquafeed?

Providing people with nutritious aquafeed is part of the sustainability narrative: a sustainable feed should be of low environmental impact (environmental pillar) but also nutritious and respectful of regional food security considerations (social pillar) and accessible (i.e. predictable in terms of volumes and prices – this is the economic pillar).

To meet those challenges, cross-sectoral assessments are needed so all feeds are compared against a common assessment grid. The seafood industry is more and more aware of the necessity to conduct environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk assessments based on the products’ whole life cycle and this approach seems to me to be a good way forward.

How do you see the aquafeed space developing over the next five years?

The aquafeed basket is made up of tenths of different ingredients. It is well established that over the years fishmeal and fish oil have been the benchmark for them, based on their nutritional profile and therefore high palatability and digestibility. Fishmeal and fish oil are not used as a commodity anymore but instead as strategic ingredients, at key stages of fish growth, according to the FAO. Over the next five years, complementarity between ingredients is expected to increase. We expect to know more about those novel ingredients, both in terms of nutritional profile and potential environmental – social trade offs and at which stage of fish growth they work best.

How is consumer perception influence changing the demand for certain aquafeeds?

Consumers increasingly want to know where their food is sourced from, how it is produced and how their choices impact the planet and people. Certification is a, and probably the way to obtain assurances on these key questions. As a standard setting the bar high for marine ingredients sourcing and production, we expect certification to become a requirement in feed producers and retailers’ sourcing policies. This is already the case in the Western world and we see consumers awareness progress in other parts of the world like South East and South Asia where MarinTrust is involved in fishery improvement projects which provide a path towards better practices and in the long term towards certification.

Another change which consumers are driving is related to the circular economy: there is no such thing as waste and we need to enable a greater use of fish byproducts in the aquaculture process.

Why is the Blue Food Innovation summit an important date in your diary? Who are you hoping to meet there?

The summit addresses the key question of protein production and supply at a sensitive moment where trade flows are being reshuffled. With the Blue Food Assessment papers published in 2021, we have science-based evidence that blue food has the potential to nourish the planet much more than it currently does: oceans make up 70% of the planet and yet fish accounts for 7% of all proteins. Collaboration is important to drive positive change and I really want to make the most of this event to meet representatives of the aquaculture value chain including the start up and investment community who has so much to bring on traceability and ESG reporting among others.

Libby will lead a roundtable discussion on ‘Perception vs Reality? Responsible Sourcing of Marine Ingredients’ at the Blue Food Innovation Summit on June 14-15. View the full agenda.