A £30M fish food plant could be the stimulus for a Teesside bio-industry boom, it has been has claimed.

Alan Shaw, boss at Calysta, says his company’s North- East commitment can spark a bio-cluster the envy of the UK.

Mr Shaw, a former ICI Teesside worker, also refused to rule out that his firm could expand further in the region.

He was speaking after Calysta opened a plant at Wilton, near Redcar, to make its FeedKind-branded protein, a fish and animal feed ingredient aimed at reducing the salmon farming industry’s dependence on fishmeal.

Officials say FeedKind will help meet the rising middleclass population’s clamour for protein and help reduce commercial overfishing and fishmeal costs.

Highlighting the situation, Mr Shaw, Calysta president and chief executive, said the global populace is expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, meaning at least 70 per cent more protein will be needed.

He told The Northern Echo: “People are demanding more protein; carbohydrates alone are not enough, protein is important for growth.

“People care about where their food comes from, they think that little bit more about what they are buying.

“This is ground-breaking technology and is a shot in the arm for Teesside.

“It could make people sit up and take notice; if we are able to do this here, maybe other high-tech companies will say the same. Over time, Teesside could become a mini bio-technology cluster.”

Mr Shaw also confirmed Calysta would open what he described as a “world-scale”

factory in the US by 2018, which would have capacity to make up to 200,000 tonnes of product every year.

Referring to its Teesside development, which is based beside the Centre for Process Innovation and has created and safeguarded about 40 jobs, he said it was too early to commit to any plans but confirmed the site could provide scope for the company’s future UK expansion.

He added: “The jobs is just one aspect. This could be the beginning, it is not the end and the story started here.

“You never know; success leads to success.”

FeedKind is made using a natural process similar to the production of Marmite and Calysta says its Teesside base is capable of producing hundreds of tonnes every year.

The plant has been supported by an Exceptional Regional Growth Fund award from the Government.