The search for alternative feed ingredients continues and Norwegian feed giant Skretting decided to take more of a lead with the help of a sustainability initiative that looks to "de-risk" feed alternatives.

As part of Feed-X, a WWF-funded corporate accelerator project, companies with alternative feed ingredients will make their case to players in the supply chain, including Skretting. Should the stars align, Skretting will assist in bringing their product to market.

"The need for more suitable ingredients is out there," Skretting Operations and Procurement Director James Rose told IntraFish. "We often see that there are some good ideas and good science, but the question is how to get them to scale and get them to the market."

Skretting has invested €80 million ($88.1 million) in the last five years in its innovation programs. It has worked with Feed-X for roughly two years, as the first leg of a WWF-funded corporate accelerator called Project-X.

As an initial commitment, Skretting will be testing the ingredients on an "experimental scale," although it requires the companies scale to a certain level if Skretting were to purchase material from them. At least 10,000 metric tons are required to get them to the viable market-level.

"Part of the selection criteria is that they have some volume. They need to be producing more than just a test tube," Jenna Bowyer, Skretting procurement project manager, told IntraFish. "Ideally, that’s on hand because we need enough raw material to run a test."

There have been a number of companies applying to Feed-X, but Bowyer says it's good the potential for alternative feeds is finally gaining the attention it needs. "It’s good to be spoilt for choice. We want to have as much flexibility in the ingredients that we can use."

Helping buyers buy

The risks and conditions in the supply chain don't always make it easy for buyers to adopt sustainable "challenger alternatives," Project-X CEO Marcela Navarro told IntraFish.

There was an overwhelming amount of interest and applications, Navarro said.

"So the problem is not the lack of alternatives, but the lack of adoption at scale. How do we help? We focus on what we are calling a systems-approach, because we believe no single organization can afford to tackle a change of this magnitude by themselves."

Together with WWF and Climate Kic, Project-X brings retailers such as IKEA, financiers and innovators into an environment that aims to mitigate risk.

"The role of Skretting is critical as our lead corporate partner. They help us identify the right challenger categories and to scale the right sustainable challenger innovations," Navarro said.

"Their role is massive in demonstrating that a buyer can shift to sustainable sourcing, that they are not only interested in playing the role themselves but that they have a fundamental interest in helping the aquaculture industry succeed."

Project-X aims to shift 10 of the world's most important industry chains to sustainable sourcing, based on highest economic influence. These 10 make up 30 percent of global economic output, with feed being one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases according to research by WWF.

"We're not creating new relationships," Navarro said. "We're just creating new transactions in existing relationships for sustainable alternatives in a way that compresses time and builds trust."