Cooke Omega Protein has been in business for over 100 years and delivers quality ingredients that improve the nutritional content of food, supplements and animal feed. The company is the leading vertically integrated producer of omega-3-rich fish oil, protein-rich specialty fishmeal and organic fish solubles for livestock and aquatic feed manufacturers in the United States. Proteins, specialty oils and essential fatty acids can be added to foods to improve the functional nutrition content of things like baked goods and dairy products. These products also provide consumers with additional nutrients needed to support overall wellness.
The company was founded as a commercial fishing operation, and the company’s products are derived from menhaden, an omega-3-rich fish harvested in federally regulated waters along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Menhaden are viewed as a vital part of the ecosystem in coastal waterways. Because of their importance, the fishing of menhaden is heavily regulated. Menhaden fishing is one of the most sustainable fishing processes as it leaves the least amount of waste and has a history of being used as a source of fertilizer by Native Americans. Cooke Omega’s fishing operations are Marine Stewardship Council certified sustainable. The company’s products are also IFFO RS certified, which verifies the responsible sourcing of raw materials and safe production of marine ingredients used for aquafeed, animal feed and human consumption.
Sustainability is fundamental to Cooke Omega and extends beyond its fishing and manufacturing practices. The company has made significant investments in its operations to reduce its energy intensity, lower GHG emissions and reduce water usage. The fishing boat fleet has been equipped with Tier 2 engines that exceed compliance requirements from both the EPA and US Coast Guard. The fleet burns 56% less fuel and generates 23% less emissions than a fleet that meets general compliance requirements. The fishing boat fleet is also outfitted with state-of-the-art technological and safety features that improve worker safety and eﬃciency. The company has also established an internal process to reclaim the water used during the processing of its menhaden catch. This water reclamation project conserves approximately 18 million gallons of water annually. Additionally, Cooke Omega has invested in new dryers that are more energy eﬃcient, which has increased the amount and quality of the protein captured during harvest. These eﬀorts around sustainability have driven operational eﬃciencies that enabled the company to achieve its highest EBITDA margin performance ever in 2020, despite a poor fishing season driven by the number of Atlantic and Gulf coast storms.
The focus on sustainability extends to the communities that Cooke Omega operates in. The company partners with Vitamin Angles, a non-profit organization that provides vitamin supplements to undernourished children globally. Cooke Omega also partners with the United Council of Food Workers (UCFW) Minority Coalition to promote sickle cell anemia awareness, an inherited blood disorder that causes the production of abnormal blood cells. Fishing for Memories is an annual fishing tournament hosted by Cooke Omega in partnership with the Louisiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to support research, early detection and educational resources for those impacted. All of these eﬀorts underscore Cooke Omega’s commitment to helping its customers and communities globally live healthier lives through better nutrition.
By Marcus Moore
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Zeo Capital Advisors is a fundamental investment manager with a short-duration credit mutual fund, a sustainable high yield mutual fund and separately managed accounts. Marcus Moore authored this piece and is the Assistant Portfolio Manager and Senior Credit Analyst at Zeo Capital Advisors. For more information contact Zeo directly at 415-875-5604 or visit www.zeo.com.
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