News State Tasmania News Tassie’s biggest salmon producer to use natural dye

Tassie’s biggest salmon producer to use natural dye

smoked salmon
Tassal says it understands using natural pigment for salmon was more attractive to consumers. Photo: Getty
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Tasmania’s largest salmon producer has announced it will soon use natural pigment supplements in its fish feed, three days after a Four Corners report on the state’s industry showed the use of a synthetic version to colour the flesh, but the company says the move has been considered “for some time”.

Tassal said it would use naturally derived astaxanthin in its fish feed, ending its use of a “nature-identical” synthetic version which is added to the farmed salmon’s feed to colour the flesh from white or grey to the pink colour common in salmon which feed on krill and other foods containing naturally occurring astaxanthin.

The announcement came three days after ABC’s Four Corners report on the Tasmanian salmon farming industry highlighted the use of synthetic astaxanthin in feed by salmon farming operations, including Tassal.

In a statement, Tassal CEO Mark Ryan said the company “had been investigating the viability of using a natural astaxanthin for some time”.

smoked salmon
Ditching fish feed with artificial astaxanthin could prove costly. Photo: ABC

“We started this work because of the growing consumer preference for natural and organic products,” he said.

“Sourcing a sustainable and reliable source of natural astaxanthin has been a complex task, but we are confident that by 2017 the first diets containing natural astaxanthin will be delivered to our farms.

After being contacted by the ABC, Tassal’s rival company Huon Aquaculture said they were “transitioning to a naturally sourced astaxanthin” as part of its new feed agreement with its major feed supplier.

“Whilst we would have preferred not to say anything until we were assured of reliable supply of 100 per cent of our salmon feed product containing the naturally sourced astaxanthin, we understand that the recent Four Corners story and Tassal’s announcement today has increased interest in the use of astaxanthin,” Peter Bender, managing director and CEO of Huon Aquaculture, said in a statement.

“I commend Tassal for their move to the naturally sourced product as we are and I don’t think it matters who gets there first.

I think it is another example of our industry taking regular steps to improve and respond to consumer and community feedback.”

Petuna, Tasmania’s other major salmon farmer, declined to comment.

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