An agreement has been signed between independent Scottish salmon farmer Loch Duart and nutrition technology firm CellsUnited to significantly increase the value extracted from farmed salmon.

Under the deal, Loch Duart will supply CellsUnited with up to 450 tonnes of salmon viscera and heads. The salmon by-product will be used to produce Cellper, a nutritional compound that can be given to people who cannot otherwise digest protein.

The by-product will undergo a complex refinement process to produce the product, which can be used in two forms – either as a dietary supplement in basic granular form that can be transported to remote parts of the world, or as a liquid nutritional supplement for hospital patients.

The arrangement has important implications for Scotland’s salmon farming industry in terms of sustainability. Currently when salmon are prepared for customers, the guts are disposed of through insilation and once filleted, the heads and frames are used in low-grade applications such as fertiliser and pet food.

Important breakthrough

Loch Duart director Andy Bing says that the Cellper process is derived from technology developed for long-distance space travel.

“The full nutritional benefit, including that of the viscera, frames and heads, can be used to combat malnutrition in developing countries and to speed the recovery of many categories of hospital patients in the developed world. We are delighted to be part of this important breakthrough,” he commented.

According to CellsUnited managing director Andy Smith, the aquaculture industry represents a clear commercial opportunity for the company’s technology.

“We plan to spend the next 18 months working closely with Loch Duart before establishing volume production, which will need a minimum of 4,500 tonnes of salmon waste a year. Our relationship with Loch Duart will continue as part of our permanent R&D base in Dingwall,” he said.

Loch Duart’s farm is based in North West Scotland, where it produces around 5,000 tonnes of salmon each year. It claims to be the first fish farm in the world to achieve RSPCA Freedom Food approval, employing farming methods that include low density stocking farming, a rotational fallowing system, swim-throughs and feed from sustainable sources.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie