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Organic Aquaculture Project

Ethnic Live Seafood Market Study

The case for US sea clam meal as an aquafeed ingredient.
A project in the works.

The Challenge: Since the early 1990s, state officials and university researchers have investigated alternative ways to dispose of processing byproducts from processing sea clam of surf clams and ocean quahogs in New Jersey. These previous efforts have analyzed land application, swine feed, composting and many of these efforts have not proven more cost-effective than landfilling.

New Jersey (USA) landed 38.5 million pounds of sea clams meats in 2010. This translates into 31 million pounds of viscera and nonrecoverable meats, according to estimates by earlier researchers.

While much of the sea clam landings in New Jersey are sent out-of-state, three processors of sea clams in southern New Jersey and Delaware generate in excess of 5 million pounds of viscera and unrecoverable meats (byproduct), annually. Estimates are that the disposal costs, which have been formerly landfilling and is currently composting, are collectively about $250,000 annually. The generation of protein components (coproducts) for animal feeds is most likely a higher value-added avenue and is the premise upon which this project has been conducted.

Seafood processors of other products such as squid and mackerel have been part of the discussion. Commitments behind these volumes are less clear than the 5 million pounds of sea clam byproduct, but all additional seafood processing byproduct would bolster the economic success of the project.

Each sea clam processor has determined that they do not wish to pursue an ownership position in the coproduct processing venture. However; each has affirmed their interest in entering long-term supplier agreements to the coproduct processing venture.

Researchers at NOAA have conducted separate proximate composition analysis and complete amino acid profiles on the raw byproduct for each species of sea clam.

The complete ownership group of this coproduct processing facility is unknown. As a result, the formation of the legal entity has not been performed and many of the executive decisions discussed above remain unknown.

More sophisticated financial analyses to better understand uncertainly (energy costs, product prices, capital investment and interest rates) remain incomplete.

Digestibility and palatability have not been analyzed because only a few trial batches of several pounds of coproduct have been generated.

The Solution: Two technologies have been put forth so far. Falcon Proteins uses an ABVRS process, where the byproduct is finely ground and flash dried. The Northwest Fisheries Lab of NOAA uses a Montlake process where the byproduct is acid/enzyme-treated, the liquefied protein is separated from the shell/sand portion, and subsequently dried.

Capital costs are estimated to be $1 million (retrofit of an existing building) or up to $2.5 million for a complete build from the ground-up. Individualized processing at each sea clam processor has been ruled out because there is insufficient volume from each sea clam processor. Centralized coproduct processing is the working objective.

Both State and potentially county-level economic development agencies have expressed interest in contributing public sector financial services.

A basic transportation analysis has been conducted looking at a default site southern New Jersey. This analysis allows the identification of collective transportation costs to the central coproduct processing and also individually to each sea clam processor based on distance.

Energy costs are estimated based on the heat needed to drive out the water portion: about 180 million BTUs per week.

Operation and maintenance of the coproduct plant is estimated to create 8-12 full-time positions.

Depending on incoming volumes of byproduct, pricing of coproduct using fish meal as a proxy, byproduct yield, and level of capital investment; Internal Rate of Return is projected to be 11% to 28%.

Current Status: So far, the project is in a mature concept phase. Considerable nutritional, logistics and financial analysis has been completed. A meeting and site visit was held in March, where many of the processors, nutritionist, extension agents, feed specialists and processing technology experts convened to discuss the body of knowledge and share ideas on how to move forward. This was followed by a steering committee with all of the sea clam processors. A listserv has been established to keep the discussing going on how to advance the project from the concept phase to the commercialization phase. To join this listserv, please click HERE to send an e-mail to the list administrator.



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