Greek Aquaculture Industry Looks at U.S. Aqua Grade Soy Protein Ingredients

Greece’s farm-raised sea bream and sea bass have a good story to tell. It is a story of top-quality fish fed with ingredients originating from sustainable sources, controlled largely by modern farming methods which have helped improve sustainability and efficiency. But it is also a story about Greece not just playing its part in the ongoing global aqua revolution, but leading it as well.
Regardless of industry, nothing will help a supplier to understand the needs of their customers more than going to their place of business. In a dual effort to position U.S. soy specialty protein products in the growing EU market of aquafeed ingredients and with the goal to better understand the customer’s needs, a team of USSEC Europe consultants traveled to Greece at the end of September to visit with the leading Greek aqua company, Selonda.

At Selonda, the USSEC Europe delegation had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the Greek aqua industry’s unique and strategic position in the Mediterranean.

Thomas Kolokas has fulfilled different tasks from feed laboratory operator to fry hatchery and open sea cage fish farming technical management at Selonda for the past 25 years. Mr. Kolokas welcomed the team of USSEC consultants to the Selonda farm for a tour, which included all sea bream and sea bass farming facilities, from laboratory to extruded feed reception, storage and feeding systems, and open sea cages.
Selonda is the largest aquaculture company in Greece, with over 5,000 cages company-wide, spread over 55 farm sites and a fully integrated production system, from breeding and marketing of fish and fish products. The farm visited is one of a group of farms spread out across Greece, in Selonda Bay. It has operated since 1979 and is composed of more than 150 operating cages. The company controls its own fresh fish transport system, in addition to the use of outside transporters. An international distribution system covers consumer needs in Europe and the Middle East, with sparser distribution in Latin America, North America, and Asia.
“The visit at Selonda was a quite a good way to build deep insights with an outstanding host, Mr. Thomas Kolokas, who is very innovative and resourceful. Visiting customers and learning what is critical to them is very important to us,” says Charles Engrem of Wenger Manufacturing.

Thomas Kolokas introduces the routine procedures implemented in the feed laboratory to the USSEC delegation.
The long-standing relationship between U.S. Soy and the Greek aqua industry is confirmed by the City of Saint Louis painting proudly hung on the wall of the laboratory in Selonda.
The visit continued with an inspection and onsite discussion at the Selonda farm’s fish feed distribution.
Dr. Yannis Kotzamanis of HCMR (left) introducing the fish feed specs to the USSEC delegation: Ronald Scholten, Mr. Engrem, and Jan van Eys.

For Greece’s aqua industry, the most important constraint in the integrated process is raw material quality and storage, in addition to production requirements and limitations established by the supermarkets and, thus, consumers. Among these are the non-GMO requirements for ingredients, reduction in fishmeal use, and abolishment of animal protein. U.S. Soy’s new soy concentrates are a good choice for this industry. An additional effort in this area, purely research-based, should further stimulate the inclusion of U.S. Soy and should be taken into consideration. Greece has long-standing experience in researching feed ingredients for the aqua industry.
Most of the new ingredients tried in Greece could be used in aquaculture across the growing European and North African fish farming in the future. Every step USSEC is taking in promoting the U.S. soy aqua grade ingredients will make Greece’s fish farming sector more efficient and sustainable and can be used elsewhere in the neighboring fish industries from Turkey, Italy, Croatia, and North African countries.
“The outcome of the one-on-one visit at Selonda was invaluable and helped us to truly grasp customers’ business, how the sea bream farming operates, and how to position U.S. Soy high value protein ingredients. Meantime, we learned that there is a need to more precise definitions of soy product quality - aqua grade, in terms of nutritional profile meeting the specific requirements of bass and bream fish, integration of research trials with larger field trials, and the introduction of U.S. second generation soy products in Mediterranean fish diets,” states Dr. Iani Chihaia, USSEC’s regional consultant.

The fish farm boat tour was a good opportunity for the USSEC team to learn the practical aspects of fish feeding and farming.
Selonda’s open sea cage farm

Aquaculture is still a relatively young economic sector in Europe and has a huge potential for growth and development, compared to animal farming. This is particularly true for the developing aquaculture industry from the Mediterranean Sea area: Greece, Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Spain, and North African countries. The positive trend among the Mediterranean fish farming sector is confirmed by the ongoing consolidation in Greece, where U.S. private investment fund Amerra Capital Management and Mubadala Investment Company recently took over the leading players with the goal to form the largest sea bream and sea bass conglomerate in the world.