New Era’s success has been built on its ability to develop different diets for different species, which ensure they don’t need any supplements.
“Fish food started as a by-product of the dog and cat food trade,” says managing director Peter Kersh.
“We use shrimp, squid, krill, mussels, algae and vitamins . We use whole shrimp and whole mussels, including the shell. We use some of the most expensive ingredients. I believe that we are in the realm of using ingredients no-one else dreams of to give fish everything they need.”
New Era’s products are made by cold pressing to remove the water which makes up 90 per cent of the raw ingredients, before milling.
“Most fish pellets are hard baked, which destroys enzymes and nutrients, while we make everything cold and use proprietary ingredients to maintain our pellets’ softness and make them easy to digest,” says Peter.
“What we do is very technical and involves a lot of science, but it gives people simplicity.”
That is particularly welcome for big aquariums, for whom the maths is fairly simple.
One kilo of New Era’s pellets is the equivalent of 10 kilos of wet fish and big aquariums need tonnes of wet fish, which has to be stored in freezers and prepared by staff.
Wet fish also leaves a lot of tissue and mess in the aquariums which puts additional pressure on filtration systems and has to be cleaned out, while any left over pieces of pellet or flakes – New Era’s other main product – are small and attracted to aquarium biofilters.
What’s more, New Era can supply around 25 products in the form of flakes, pellets and grazing products that can be attached to the window of an aquarium to allow grazing fish to follow natural feeding patterns, replacing the need to stock a range of different species of wet fish that would otherwise be required for food.
The benefits don’t end there.
“It’s allowed big aquariums to develop feeding strategies which ensure different species get the nutrition they need. Fish health improves, water quality improves and, when fish eat well, they become less predatory,” says Peter Kersh.
More products are on the way as New Era strives to create a diet for fussy eaters from both ends of the fishy spectrum.
“We want to tackle areas that are hard to do, like feeding sharks in captivity and sea horses,” says David Grasby, who joined New Era as marketing manager recently to help it develop its brand and sell itself more effectively.
“The shark diet is nearly there. That will be a big, big number for us. Sea horses like to feed on live, small shrimps. You can’t breed them in big numbers at present because there is nothing to feed them on. The world-wide potential is huge.”
Creating scientifically balanced diets for different species is an important ingredient in New Era’s recipe for success.
Another is the machinery New Era has developed to manufacture pellets and the sheets of feed which are then turned into large flakes.
“We have innovated in both the ingredients and the machinery and we now have an innovation programme designed to increase capacity and automate production,” says Peter Kersh.
“No one else produces soft flakes and big pellets. The machines are made to measure. I like that, it gives us our uniqueness and that is something that is very valuable and helps us to continue to grow.”