Newsroom New sustainable fish feed to contribute to Singapore’s “30 by 30” food sustainability goal

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New sustainable fish feed to contribute to Singapore’s “30 by 30” food sustainability goal

Media Releases

Fri, 10 May 2024
New sustainable fish feed to contribute to Singapore’s “30 by 30” food sustainability goal

Researchers from the Tropical Futures Institute (TFI) of James Cook University (JCU) in Singapore and Republic Polytechnic (RP) are developing a sustainable and productive new feed to increase the production of the red snapper species.

With over 90% of its food imported, Singapore is vulnerable to global supply chain disruptions. To enhance food resilience, Singapore has a “30 by 30” vision in place – that is, to build the nation’s agri-food sector’s capability and capacity to sustainably produce 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030. Seafood has been identified as a priority area as it is one of the more productive and resource-efficient food types, a good source of protein and suitable for land-scarce Singapore.

The red snapper is an important marine food fish species cultured in Singapore due to its high market value and consumer acceptance. However, there are no specific commercial feeds available that are tailored to meet its nutritional requirements. Furthermore, such requirements have not been adequately studied. In light of this, a group of researchers, in 2021, backed by funding support from the Singapore Food Story R&D Grant, set out to develop a sustainable and highly productive feed for the species.

The research team, comprising the Tropical Futures Institute (TFI) of James Cook University (JCU) in Singapore, and Republic Polytechnic (RP), and led initially by Associate Professor Katheline Hua and later by Principal Investigator Associate Professor Xueyan Shen, has identified the nutrient requirements of red snapper as well as a sustainable diet based on locally available ingredients that increase the growth rate and productivity of farming this seafood species.

The research project, titled "Optimizing Feeds for Singaporean Red Snapper Aquaculture", was carried out in collaboration with the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Metropolitan Fishery Group (MFG).

“Current production of the red snapper locally relies mainly on generic marine fish feeds, which can only provide a basic level of nutrition needed by red snapper for growth. Moreover, these commercial feeds typically contain high levels of fish meal and fish oil, leading to increased feed costs,” explains Associate Professor Shen.

“Through a comprehensive assessment of the nutrient utilisation and requirements of the carnivorous red snapper, we determined that the fish has a low ability to utilise carbohydrates in its diet as the primary energy source for growth. Whereas the energy utilisation of protein and lipid for growth was found to be approximately 70%. These findings, advocate for a protein-rich diet to optimise the red snapper’s growth performance,” says Mr Shawn Ngoh, JCU in Singapore PhD (Aquaculture) candidate under an SFA scholarship.

Successful formulation of cost-effective feeds for juvenile snapper using plant-derived ingredients in some cases led to at least 50% faster growth than those fed with commercial diets. Overall, using the new efficient diets the team expects at least 20% cost savings for farmers for every 1kg of fish produced.

“By developing tailored feed formulations based on robust scientific understanding, the team aims to drive positive change and industry growth in the farming of red snapper in Singapore, benefiting both local farmers and consumers,” says Professor Dean Jerry, Director TFI, JCU in Singapore.

Looking ahead, the best-performing feed formulations have been utilised for optimal feed development for grow-out fish. These will undergo on-farm trials coordinated by Republic Polytechnic and subsequently be licensed for commercial production. Leveraging partnerships with overseas feed mills, these formulations will be made available to local farms at competitive prices.

“As Singapore strives towards food security, initiatives like this pave the way for a productive and sustainable aquaculture industry, contributing to the nation's “30 by 30” vision says Dr Jiang Junhui, Director Aquaculture Department, Urban Food Solutions at SFA.\


Discover further information on areas of research and research strength at James Cook University in Singapore.

Check out Associate Professor Xueyan Shen’s staff and research profiles


Shen Xueyan [email protected]
Shawn Ngoh [email protected]
Dean Jerry [email protected]

Media: Ms Pinky Sibal [email protected] / Ms Hoe Shu Rin [email protected]