North America

Topping Off Ceremony at Blair, Neb., algal oil production site

Veramaris recently held a Topping Off Ceremony for its $200 million facility to produce Omega-3 fatty acids from natural marine algae in Blair, Neb.

In Germany, there is the tradition of the Richtfest, or Topping Off, which symbolizes when the framing of a structure is finished and only the roof needs to be added to make it complete. The ceremony is marked by placing a tree on top of the building.

Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley, who kicked off the proceedings, noted that the project was “a great benefit to Nebraska and represents the cutting edge of innovation.” Following his comments, the Lieutenant Governor helped leadership of Evonik, DSM and Veramaris unveil a new Veramaris sign.

“The complementary competencies of DSM and Evonik can meaningfully transform the food chain,” said Reiner Beste, chairman of the Management Board of Evonik Nutrition & Care. He also acknowledged the construction crew’s more than 330 days (over 88,000 hours) worked without a lost-time incident (LTI).

Christoph Goppelsroeder, president & CEO at DSM Nutritional Products Ltd., echoed Mr. Beste’s sentiments about complementary competencies and noted that the end result of this new process would be: “Doing well, by doing good.” In other words, economic success while also providing environmental benefits.

Kurim Kurmaly, CEO of Veramaris, lauded the courage of DSM and Evonik to undertake this type of project which he called, “environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.”

Until recently, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA added to animal feed have been almost exclusively from marine sources. Currently, a total of 16 million metric tons of wild fish are caught for the production of fish oil and fishmeal. With the help of natural marine algae, Veramaris contributes to closing the supply-demand gap for omega-3 EPA and DHA, while helping to conserve marine life and biodiversity in the oceans.

Following the formal portion of the event, leadership from all three companies went out to the new facility where a tree, decorated in Veramaris’ colors, was raised to the top of the plant.

The construction of the US$ 200 million facility is progressing on-time and according to plan. Commercial quantities of algal oil will be ready for delivery in mid-2019. Pilot-scale quantities are already being supplied to selected feed producers and farmers for market development.