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News 944 views last update:7 Aug 2012

Feeding fish on beer waste

Fort Collins, Colorado (USA) based New Belgium Brewing Co. has found another outlet for the leftovers of their beer brewing activities: fish feed

Three Colorado entrepreneurs are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to convert the wastewater from New Belgium's brewing operations into a high-protein ingredient to feed farm-raised fish.

The trio anticipates on the booming business of fish farming. Farm-raised species such as salmon and tilapia rely on other fish such as anchovies and menhaden, which are ground into fish meal. Demand for these is rising but supply is tight due to limited wild catch.

"We can't support the growth of the aquaculture business using fish to feed fish," said Randy Swenson, CEO of Oberon FMR Inc. "The business we're in is fish meal replacement."

Oberon is teamed with the Colorado School of Mines and New Belgium to brew up its "fish meal replacement" at a pilot production plant at New Belgium in Fort Collins.

Use of bacteria
The pilot facility will feed and convert the protein-laden bacteria already swarming in New Belgium's brewing wastewater. The goal is to change those bacteria into a protein-rich biomass, which then will be dried into granules and added to fish feed, reducing the need for fish meal in the feed.

If successful the process could also be used in other protein rich waste streams and be exported to countries in need of alternatives to fish-based ingredients in aquafeed. A subsidised pilot has been set up in Bangladesh, a key aquaculture country.

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