Special Edition: Sustainable Sourcing

IFFO RS looks to make new fishmeal and fish oil sourcing standard fit for purpose

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The aim of the revised IFFO RS, version 2.0, launched today, is to ensure the relevancy and credibility of the marine raw material standard, which, up to now, has mainly seen take up in the salmon farming sector. 

Andrew Jackson, chair of the IFFO RS Governance Board, told FeedNavigator:

“The main amendments in IFFO RS Version 2.0 include: a revision of the scoring methodology for fisheries, the introduction of criteria to assess good manufacturing practices, and the inclusion of new social and environmental parameters to protect fishmeal and fish oil factory workers and to reduce pollution and emissions from those manufacturing operations.”

The IFFO Global Standard for Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) is a business-to-business, third party audited certification program, which began in 2009, to assure the feed, food and nutraceutical value chains that marine raw materials are both responsibly sourced and manufactured. It enables an IFFO RS compliant factory to demonstrate this to the international market. 

It became an independent standard two years ago, run by IFFO RS Ltd, with the govering body comprising a broad range of stakeholders from fishmeal producers to feed manufacturers to salmon farmers to NGOs to retailers.

IFFO RS Standard version 2.0 underwent a comprehensive standard development process that involved two public consultations to offer those directly and indirectly affected by the proposed new version the opportunity to provide feedback. A multi-stakeholder technical advisory committee worked on the details of the new version, which was then adopted by the Governance Board. The IFFO RS Ltd held workshops on the revised standard in Europe, Asia and South America.

Fit for purpose?

“In November 2014, the governing body looked to undertake a complete review of the standard, to see if it was fit for purpose, as we see that salmon production will no longer be the only driver for the standard - it is no longer just about certified Peruvian anchovy fisheries.

“We see demand growing for certification in Asia from the shrimp, tilapia and pangasius supply chain there. Fisheries and factories are looking to improve practice and they want to demonstrate responsible marine ingredient sourcing for shrimp and other species, particularly for the export markets like Europe and the US,” said Jackson. 

Version 2.0, as well as having changes to the scoring for fishery and factory assessments, allows for evaluation of multi-species fisheries, typical in areas of Central America and countries like South Africa. “Previously where you had four or five species caught within the one fishery, each species supply needed to be separately audited, which was expensive, now they can go for a single assessment under IFFO RS version 2.0, making it more cost effective. We have fisheries already lined up for this, they are very keen.”

However, Jackson said the governing body has not reached the finishing line yet on the multi-species tropical trawl fisheries located in South East Asia. “We are currently looking at how to address those. In the meantime, the applicants in this category can contact IFFO RS to join the improvers program.”

Under version 1.6 of the IFFO RS standard, fishmeal factories needed to have both Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and HACCP in place already. “That was fine for those supplying salmon feed producers, as they already had this in place, but for factories in Asia it is more useful for a standard to be a one stop shop, so we have integrated clauses in version 2.0 that take account of GMP and HACCP parameters.  Factories, thus, are no longer required to have third party certification on those aspects. The IFFO RS standard, as a result, now has a lot more audit points, but it is more robust, and more accessible.”

Employees and emissions

The social and environmental aspects of the standard are also improved, he said. “These clauses look to the welfare of employees in the marine raw material factories but also to the benefits for the communities in which those plants operate. The idea is to make the factories better neighbors. There are also tighter requirements on effluents and emissions from the facilities.”

Factories and fisheries have 12 months to become compliant with the new standard. “Training of auditors in Peru is taking place currently, while auditors elsewhere have already been trained on the new version. Eventually, we will not recognize version 1.6.”

Jackson does not expect much of an outcry about the revision: “We consulted widely.”

He stressed that the IFFO RS standard, while it brings such burdens as costs, audits, and even, irritation, also brings access to markets.

“However, we are only relevant if stakeholders down the line create a demand for such certification. The salmon feed market has adopted the standard; now other aquaculture species supply chains are looking to do the same.”

Coverage targets

Currently, 40% of the marine raw material ingredients supply is covered by the IFFO RS standard.

“We hope the new version will put us on the right footing to get that to above the 50% mark. We would then hope to see that shift upwards, so that 60% of the fishmeal and fish oil supply is certified responsible under IFFO RS in 10 years’ time. We don’t expect it to ever get beyond that as some fisheries won’t ever be able to comply, or wish to comply with the standard.”

China is critical in this regard, he said. “We will need the Chinese market if we want to reach the 60% target. China is a big buyer of fishmeal; it imports some 900,000 tons per year. It also produces 400,000 tons of fishmeal locally on an annual basis, bringing total usage to around 1.3m tons yearly. However, for the moment, feed safety, not the environmental impact of fishmeal, is the main concern in China. We are beginning to see the adoption of best aquaculture farming standards such as Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) on fish farms in China.”

Use of fishmeal

He said the IFFO RS standard, though, is gaining traction in feed for shrimp producers in Vietnam and Thailand, particularly those that look to export markets. “The shrimp sector is now a bigger user of fishmeal than the salmon sector. Moreover, good quality fishmeal is making the difference in early stage tilapia and pangasius diets. Even carp production, in China, uses a lot of fishmeal at the hatchery stage. The idea being to grow the fish as quickly and as healthily as possible.”

The global salmon industry, though, as it has grown in terms of volumes, still needs a lot of fishmeal, said Jackson. “At the hatchery stage, salmon diets can comprise 30 to 40% fishmeal but that is reduced to 10 to 15% of the diet at the grower diet stage.”

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