Value Add Salmon

August 2017

Adding value to primary sector waste streams at NZ King Salmon.

New Zealand King Salmon has launched a new pet food brand as part of a wider objective of better utilising the by-products of its farming businesses. 

It is the largest manufacturer of King Salmon (Chinook) in the world, supplying approximately 50% of the world’s production. Total turnover is in excess of $115m.

New Zealand King Salmon farms, processes and sells a range of salmon products to retailers and the food service industry in both domestic and export markets, with brands including Regal, Southern Ocean, Ora King Salmon and now Omega Plus pet food range. 

King Salmon currently has 7 farms in the Marlborough Sounds. Collectively they are estimated to produce around 6,500 tonnes each year and projected as rising to 9,500 tonnes by 2021. 

The product is sold around the globe but specifically into the Australian, Asian and US markets, with more recent markets opening up in Europe and Scandinavia. 

The company believes King Salmon has some clear market advantages as it’s a unique species, with (it’s claimed) a more delicate flavour than some other salmon species. It has a higher omega-3 content and is sustainably farmed and disease free. 

As a business, New Zealand King Salmon is vertically integrated, so they can follow the production chain all the way from harvest through to the market. 

During processing, New Zealand King Salmon generates a significant amount of by-product, from which the company has been looking at extracting higher value. According to New Zealand King Salmon's Divisional Manager Simon Thomas, the material is high in nutritional value and is of good enough quality that the company felt it could target a new market with its products by selling salmon-based pet foods with evidence-based health benefits. 

"New Zealand King Salmon had undertaken some initial development work in the area of pet treats and wanted to build on this by looking at palatability of the products by animals", states Thomas. "We started discussions with the BPA about how the company could access top New Zealand scientists to investigate the products' acceptability to its target market."   

The BPA is a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment funded research and development programme involving Plant & Food Research, Scion, AgResearch, Callaghan Innovation and university scientists. 

The BPA's General Manager Anna Yallop was impressed by New Zealand King Salmon's ability to develop, enter and promote their new product line in a relatively short timeframe. "The BPA works with companies in the primary sector to find better uses for their biological waste and secondary streams" says Yallop. "We are looking for opportunities to both reduce the amount of waste that is currently going to landfill or is of little value for companies and also help companies generate revenue by developing export products from these streams." 

New Zealand King Salmon identified researchers at the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University to work on the project. Dr Nick Cave and Professor David Thomas from Massey lead the research project and the results were of such value to the company that plans are afoot to approach the BPA for additional funding to conduct trials on the range of pet food products, to enable New Zealand King Salmon to target the international market with some additional science behind its nutritional claims. 

"We are really excited about the work that the scientists at Massey did with New Zealand King Salmon" says Yallop. "New Zealand has an excellent opportunity to capitalise on its positioning in the international market in terms of developing high quality, natural and safe food products and the pet market is seeing an incredible level of growth that we can take advantage of. Having some sound science to back up company statements is a highly valuable tool that the BPA was pleased to be able to contribute to and we look forward to watching how New Zealand King Salmon's new product range is received by the domestic market and ultimately, the international one."

“We have developed a pet food range - Omega Plus, using remaining raw materials from our salmon operations. This would have otherwise gone to rendering - a low “tech, low return disposal method.”

“We set up a division within NZ King Salmon called Omega Innovations and our sole purpose is to look for better ways to utilise these materials. Pet food is just one project we are working on but it is the most developed. We are in New World and some Pak’n’Save stores around the South Island as a test market to iron out any bugs.”