C-Feed (a spin-off from SINTEF) has so far produced copepods on a small scale in Trondheim, Norway, but when the new plant opens in the autumn, the company will start by increasing its production by a factor of 10.

Using unique technology from SINTEF, the new factory, which is located outside Trondheim, will have an annual market potential of NOK2bn.

The tiny crustaceans will be used as live feed for fry of ballan wrasse, tuna, lobster, halibut and other marine species. Many companies and researchers across the world have tried without success to cultivate new species, and it is often the fry stage that has been the problem, because a large proportion of the young fish die during this early phase of production.

“Until now, cultivating tuna has been an extremely demanding, not to say impossible, process. Our copepods have turned out to be very suitable as baby food for fry, and we believe that tuna could represent a major market for us, since tuna are in great demand with sushi enthusiasts all over the world,” says C-Feed CEO Rune Bjerke.

C-Feed says that the copepods are also very likely to revolutionise the cultivation of well-known farmed species such as halibut, lobster and ballan wrasse.

Mr Bjerke points to ballan wrasse cultivation as having great market potential, particularly in Norway. Wrasse are in demand because they eat lice that live on the skin of salmon held in fish-cages, and are therefore among the most effective methods of combatting plagues of lice. “The production of fish-feed for ballan wrasse farmers could become our largest market in Norway,” says Mr Bjerke.

The company has already started small-scale exports to customers in several European countries, and expects that its turnover will be in the region of NOK10m in the first full year of operation of the new plant.