Farm-Raised Salmon Isn’t Naturally Pink!
When buying salmon, what do most people search for? Not in terms of size or fat content. The majority of people are looking for color. Darker salmon sells better because of its characteristic pink tint (which is commonly referred to as “salmon”). Color, on the other hand, has little bearing on the quality of farm-raised salmon, which accounts for 70% of the market. The pink hue is added to farm-raised salmon, which is naturally gray.
Because wild salmon eats astaxanthin, a reddish-orange chemical found in krill and shrimp, they are naturally pink. Farm-raised salmon, on the other hand, will consume whatever is thrown into their tanks. Salmon typically survive on “kibble made from a hodge-podge that might include oil and flesh of smaller fish (e.g. herring and anchovies), corn gluten, ground-up feathers, soybeans, chicken fat, genetically engineered yeast,” according to Quartz.com, which investigated the salmon coloring phenomenon.
Astaxanthin, which is occasionally produced naturally but more typically in a lab, is also included in this kibble. Farmers can even predict how pink their salmon will be based on the amount of astaxanthin it contains. DSM, for example, sells “SalmoFan,” a numerical color reference tool similar to what you’d see when buying house paint that allows farmers to determine how red the flesh of their fish is.
Perhaps most shockingly, “pigmenting additives are the most expensive component of the farmed salmon diet, accounting for up to 20% of feed expenses,” according to Quartz.com. Pigmenting, on the other hand, pays for itself in terms of profits. Poorly colored farm salmon, according to one research, would be “impossible to sell at any price,” necessitating the coloration..
According to Quartz.com, if more people were aware of this phenomenon, producers could avoid the high cost of dying gray salmon, allowing them to sell it at a lesser price (and removing any possible negative effects of loading up our fish with artificial colors). Alternatively, they could start dressing fish in tuxedos and selling them for a lot more money.