Hemp by-products as a protein source for Scottish salmon (RD147)


Rare Earth Global aims to create a UK-grown and processed hemp meal and test the suitability of this as an alternative sustainable protein source for the Scottish Atlantic salmon industry.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

18 months

Project Summary:

Most of the ingredients for salmon aquafeed manufacturing in the UK is imported from South America and Central Europe. Soy protein, the main protein source used, leads to deforestation, and carries a high CO2 footprint both from farming and international shipping. Recent events such as the war in Ukraine and Brexit have shown how vulnerable our food system is, highlighting the need for locally produced ingredients, ideally derived from by-products to fit into the circular economy/zero waste concept.

Hemp provides a competitive protein source to soy, containing a similar amino acid profile and a favourable nutritional composition. Rare Earth Global (REG) have developed a UK model for supplying locally produced and sustainable hemp protein, which avoids deforestation through fitting into UK farmers’ crop rotations. Through full plant utilisation, REG’s primary use of stalk (construction/energy) can lead to a negative CO2 impact on the use of the seeds for protein. In contrast to other protein alternatives, the scale needed for commercial use can be met through REG’s UK offtakes for the stalk (250K mT).

This research will investigate the suitability of UK produced hemp seed by-product as a protein source for the Scottish Atlantic salmon industry. In the feasibility study we proved that hemp protein is highly digestible, with an average of 87% protein digestibility. The second step is to create a UK grown and processed hemp meal that has at least 60% crude protein, test this in an Atlantic salmon commercial trial and measure the life cycle impact for industry.

STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

Rare Earth Global