Last week, the Loch Duart Sales and Marketing team spent a day at the Scottish factory of EWOS – our feed supplier since 2006. Loch Duart has benefitted hugely from this long and happy association. It meets Loch Duart’s philosophy – business should be fun and rewarding, feed should be sustainable and you’ll get what you need if you pick business partners who you trust.
EWOS is an international company with production in Scotland, Norway, Canada and Chile, feeding one-third of the world’s farmed salmon. This gives the company the resources it and Loch Duart need to develop long-term feed strategies that meet the demands of high quality salmon farming.
Feed is by far the biggest cost in salmon production – it is also the most influential factor on fish growth and, although this may come as a surprise to some readers, fish morale.
Since Day One in our working relationship, EWOS and Loch Duart have worked to meet three objectives – feed must be as close to the salmon’s natural diet as possible; it must be sustainable; and it must be as pure and uncontaminated as possible. Meeting these objectives delivers our ultimate objective – to produce salmon as close in form and texture to wild salmon as is possible by farming – fish which look and taste wonderful.
To achieve this we have together formulated Loch Duart’s ‘own label’ feed – the only farm-branded feed produced by this world supplier.
Protein is the key component in a salmon’s diet and this comes from fish meal and fish oil. Fish meal supply is focussed on Icelandic capelin – a small pelagic fish which shoals around Iceland. The capelin is not only a fundamental part of the diet of Atlantic salmon, it is a food source they recognise and enjoy. Iceland, being a visionary country in terms of species management, guards and regulates the capelin fishery, ensuring a sustainable level of biomass for future reproduction.
Oil and fat together make up the second key component and the same principle of sustainability is true for the sources of our fish oil – the Chilean sardine and the Peruvian anchovy . These are also species which are fished and conserved responsibly.
Like all fish farmers nowadays, we add carbohydrate, in the form of wheat or field beans but, because salmon get very little of this in the wild, just enough to bind the feed pellet together and far less than what has become the norm for most salmon producers. We also use Soya Protein Concentrate (SPC) which is another (and relatively low-cost) source of protein. Here an important principle is applied as we insist that our soya is non-GM. This will be guaranteed via Proterra Certification during 2015. We feel this is an important reassurance to give to our trade customers and the consumers who buy from their restaurants and retail outlets.
Avoiding GM is one part of an approach which monitors and minimises every known contaminant which can get into feed sources from natural and human sources. We also monitor the levels of EPA and DHA, both in our feed and in our salmon fillets, to ensure that Omega3 levels are optimised.
During our visit to EWOS we toured the factory to view the complex and tightly-controlled production process which ensures that the final product meets exact specifications, not just in terms of ingredients but in size and consistency of texture which are also important to our salmon.
‘Fish can be happy too’ is a quote you may not remember. It was made by Nick Joy, one of our three founders, when we accepted the first-ever UK ‘Best Food’ award in 2005. It is part of a philosophy we hold dear at Loch Duart – that taste and welfare are inextricably linked.
‘You are what you eat’ is true for salmon too and we hope the thought, effort and cost that goes into Loch Duart feed reassures every reader that we are producing salmon as salmon should be.