CSIRO has formally announced the formation of a new company to take a methane-moderating seaweed stockfeed additive to market, with $13 million secured from five investors.
FutureFeed Pty Ltd will commercialise a feed additive made from the seaweed asparagopsis, which has been shown to reduce methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle by more than 80 percent in research trials in Australia and the US.
As disclosed in this earlier Beef Central article, the five core investors in the project are GrainCorp, which already operates divisions producing a range of stockfeeds and livestock supplements; Twiggy Forrest’s beef supply chain Harvest Road group; national supermarket retailer Woolworths; AGP Sustainable Real Assets-Sparklabs Cultiv8 Joint Venture; and CSIRO, which will ‘earn’ its equity in the project through R&D.
Industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews said it was great to see Australian companies getting behind an Aussie innovation with immense global potential.
“This is a game-changer – not only for livestock production, but also for our environment – with the potential to create an entirely new industry, while supporting jobs in the Australian agriculture sector,” Minister Andrews said.
“This is an example of what can be achieved when industry and researchers work together to solve real-world problems. It also highlights the ongoing jobs and economic opportunities that can come from ensuring our world-leading research is commercialised.”
The newly established FutureFeed company will develop a full value chain for the livestock feed supplement, from seaweed cultivation and production through to processing and feed manufacture in order to supply beef and dairy industries globally.
The company expects to see commercial volumes of the feed additive supplied into the Australian beef and dairy market by mid-2021, with international markets to follow.
When asparagopsis is fed as a supplement to cattle, it not only reduces methane emissions but also supports productivity. The supplement has been developed and trialled over more than five years by CSIRO in collaboration with Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University.
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said FutureFeed was an example of ‘science solving the seemingly unsolvable’ – reducing the emissions but not the profits.
“FutureFeed enables agriculture and the environment to be partners not competitors, helps overcome negative perceptions of the cattle industry, and gives Australian farmers an advantage in the global marketplace as first adopters of this Aussie innovation,” Dr Marshall said.
“The project is addressing some of the greatest challenges we face, including food security, sustainable production and climate change, by turning science into a real product in the hands of business so they can turn it into jobs and economic growth.
By earning equity in FutureFeed, CSIRO can continue to invest in great science for the future of industry, he said.
Prospect for greenhouse gas abatement
CSIRO scientists estimate that if the feed additive were to be adopted by 10 percent of beef feedlots and dairy industries globally, this could reduce livestock industry greenhouse gas emissions by about 120 megatonnes per year, equivalent to taking around 50 million cars off the road for a year.
The company will be exploring market options for greenhouse gas abatement payments for livestock producers that adopt the supplement.
FutureFeed Pty Ltd has been formed after a competitive investment process designed to ensure a mix of investors with expertise across the livestock value chain encompassing aquaculture, feed supply, beef production and processing, and retail.