Life Cycle Assessment of New Zealand-farmed King salmon

We carried out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study to understand the sustainability of New Zealand-farmed King salmon. Fisheries New Zealand, Aquaculture New Zealand and the New Zealand Salmon Farmers Association commissioned the study.

Download a PDF of our nutshell summary

We compared the carbon footprint of New Zealand-farmed King salmon with other dietary proteins

Part 1: life cycle assessment

We first assessed the environmental impact of New Zealand-farmed King salmon over its life cycle.

Part 2: protein comparison

We then compared the impacts of producing farmed King salmon with other popular dietary proteins.

Part 3: ways to reduce impact 

We identified what the New Zealand-farmed King salmon industry can do to reduce its environmental impacts.

Our LCA study looked at three phases

  • Upstream processes: making and transporting salmon feed
  • Core processes: rearing, farming, harvesting, processing and packaging the salmon
  • Downstream processes: transporting salmon to the consumer, cooking and disposing of it.

 Click on image to enlarge

How New Zealand-farmed King salmon compares to other proteins

We compared the carbon footprint of producing New Zealand-farmed King salmon with producing other protein types. New Zealand-farmed King salmon has a lower carbon footprint per 100g of protein than beef, lamb and cheese. Its carbon footprint falls into a similar range to global egg, poultry and farmed fish protein. The carbon footprint is also similar to New Zealand farmed Pacific oysters but higher than that of New Zealand-farmed Greenshell mussels.


Opportunities to lower the impact from feed

Feed formulation

Work with suppliers to identify feed formulations that balance nutritional content, availability, environmental impacts and price.

Finding alternatives

Replace high-impact feeds like soy protein concentrate and rapeseed oil.

Improving yields

Reduce the amount of feed needed to produce one kilo of salmon by making the feed more nutritious and digestible, and improving salmon genetics.

Feed formulation

Further improve feeding systems and technology: camera and system monitoring can make feeding more efficent.

Opportunities to lower the export carbon footprint

Investigate options for sea freight

Improving freezing and chilling technology could lead to increased sea freight and lower the transport footprint for international markets. Super-cooling salmon can contribute to a lower carbon footprint because it reduces the amount of ice, transport and packaging materials needed. The product stays fresh for longer, allowing for longer transport times.

Support use of lower carbon fuels for airlines

Encouraging air freight companies to use lower carbon fuels could also have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of salmon.


8 June 2023