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From ova to Rover: pet food demand sparks hatcheries' interest in Ace fish stunner

The increasing demand for high-quality pet food containing healthy ingredients such as fish has prompted a rise in enquiries about Ace Aquatec's HSU. Photo: Robi-Quickborn / Pixabay.
The increasing demand for high-quality pet food containing healthy ingredients such as fish has prompted a rise in enquiries about Ace Aquatec's HSU. Photo: Robi-Quickborn / Pixabay.

Scottish aquaculture technology supplier Ace Aquatec said today that it has seen demand soar for its electric stunners for fry and parr as consumers opt for more premium pet foods while they spend more time at home with their pets due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Ace Aquatec sales director, Mike Forbes said: “The number of pet owners has surged this year - with the RSPCA seeing a 600% increase in puppy fostering interest – and there’s a growing trend in pet owners seeing high quality pet food as a health benefit instead of a luxury.

“The global pet food market is anticipated to benefit from this ever-increasing demand for natural and premium products. We’re seeing enquiries from fish farming companies around the globe on how to tap into this demand by selling parr and broodstock by-product as a natural, healthy, and safe ingredient for pet food products.”

An Ace Aquatec HSU in Japan. The Dundee-based company has had enquiries from around the world from smolt supplies wanting to supply the pet food market. Click on image to enlarge.
An Ace Aquatec HSU in Japan. The Dundee-based company has had enquiries from around the world from smolt supplies wanting to supply the pet food market. Click on image to enlarge.

Smallest grade

It’s common practice to grade parr into different size categories. The smallest grade is culled because the fish wouldn’t have the potential to be commercially performing smolts.

“Incinerators are often used to dispose of culled fish after anaesthetising at significant cost and waste,” said Forbes in a press release. “Our stunner has the ability to cull fish without using chemicals, which creates the opportunity to convert currently costly by-product into an ethical supply stream for producers of premium pet food, fish oils, and food for farm or zoo animals. Farmers want to see their fish go to use, rather than literally going to waste.”

Increased requests

One of Ace Aquatec’s customers, Jarl van den Berg from Hendrix Genetics’ Landcatch Scotland salmon operation, which supplies salmon ova and smolts, said: “One unexpected result of Covid-19 has been the rise of new pet owners and existing pet owners wanting to spoil their pets by feeding them the best quality food.

“Salmon is a great source of protein and we’re seeing increased requests for fresh fish that can be put into wet pet food. In order to do this, we looked at how our surplus fish were being culled and agreed that we would move away from using anaesthetics to create value from an otherwise waste product.

Chemical-free

“We adopted Ace Aquatec’s Humane Stunner Universal as it is the best solution in the market in terms of animal welfare standards and environmental impact. Their chemical free, in-water electric stunner has transformed our processing, reduced wastage, and improved our environmental footprint by stopping our fish going to incinerator.

“It has also allowed us to talk to large pet food suppliers about the efficacy of our supply chain and welfare standards. Consumer habits are changing at pace, and understanding those changes is critical as we prioritise how to recalibrate to meet the changed circumstances driven by Covid-19.”

Ace Aquatec’s Humane Stunner Universal won the prestigious Innovation Prize at the world’s largest aquaculture trade show, Aqua Nor, in 2017. 

Landcatch Scotland's site at Ormsary, Scotland. The Hendrix Genetics-owned operation is using an electric stunner to cull surplus fish.
Landcatch Scotland's site at Ormsary, Scotland. The Hendrix Genetics-owned operation is using an electric stunner to cull surplus fish.
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