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F3 Krill Replacement Challenge: A single-cell protein

NovoNutrients has registered to the challenge with a non-GMO microbial, gas-fermented single-cell protein.

Credits: Novonutrients
October 4, 2023

NovoNutrients has registered to the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge with a non-GMO microbial, gas-fermented single-cell protein called Novotein™ as an alternative protein ingredient for aquafeeds.

“Novotein boasts superior crude protein levels compared to krill meal and is also more digestible while producing none of the emissions or ecosystem disruptions associated with krill harvesting,” said David Tze, CEO of NovoNutrients. “Novotein can even be customized to include up to 1% carotenoids by weight, although, since the F3 challenge already supplements carotenoids, we elected to use our flagship, non-GMO product without integrated carotenoids.”

“We capture industrial CO2 emissions and utilize oxygen and low-carbon intensity H2, which our microbes ferment into single-cell protein in our proprietary bioreactors. After sterilization and drying, the result is a potentially carbon-neutral 72-82% protein biomass that includes all the essential amino acids for healthy fish growth. Additional inputs include ammonia, mineral salts, and water,” Tze explained.

Novotein has already undergone several successful aquafeed trials, notably with the USFWS in Bozeman, MT, the Japanese Scientific Feeds Association, and with a globally important feed manufacturer. Studies in trout, where controls were fed on standard fishmeal based aquafeeds, showed that growth and survival rates for fish fed on Novotein feeds were equivalent or slightly higher than controls.

Palatability (time to strike, total time to consume feed) was also significantly better for Novotein based feed. The global feed company’s trials in shrimp also showed protection against Acute Hepatopancreatic Necrosis Disease (AHPND) in vannamei shrimp.

In terms of price, Novonutrients projects Novotein will be comparable to superprime fishmeal. “Considering the high level of protein, fish-grade amino acid profile, high digestibility, and palatability trial results, it is highly competitive with krill meal. Krill supplies are also limited, and production cannot be easily scaled up without causing potentially permanent ecological harm. By comparison, Novotein production can scale quickly to meet large demand, with few supply constraints other than being in locations where energy is inexpensive, due to the relationship between energy costs and low carbon hydrogen generation,” Tze stated.

Krill is valued in aquafeeds for its high protein content, pigments like astaxanthin, palatability, and omega-3s. “However, we do not think krill is indispensable, and in fact, we believe that we can replace a significant volume of krill with Novotein, due primarily to our high crude protein level and full complement of amino acids essential for healthy aquaculture species growth. Our ability to incorporate carotenoids, including astaxanthin, in our SCP further obviates the need for krill harvesting. Enhanced palatability in feeds containing Novotein will yield less waste and higher profitability as a result,” Tze said.

“Although we are entering this challenge alone, it’s inevitable that the optimal krill replacement will be multi-ingredient. In our case, complementary ingredients from other producers, such as omega-3 fatty acids, will deliver superior economic and environmental outcomes. For us, the F3 Challenge represents an opportunity to validate Novotein as a sustainable, cost-effective, high-performance replacement for krill meal, and that aquafeed production can be done in a manner that actually slows climate change and habitat loss. We expect to gain direct insight into our performance, understand the competitive landscape, develop partnerships and expand our network of talent,” Tze concluded. has been interviewing some registrants of the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge. See below.

Entobel: The attraction of insect meal

eniferBio: The power of mycoprotein

JF Nutritech: Could phytonutrients replace krill?

Stratium: Insect protein to replace krill

Symrise Aqua Feed: Land-based byproducts

Protenga: An insect-based palatability enhancer

Nutrition Technologies: A new insect-based approach

CCYAA Chile: A microalgae oil

Shaivaa Algaetech: A mix of microalgae

Palmatech Product: A palm oil concentrate

dsm-firmenich: A palatable protein ingredient

Maltento: An insect digest

BCF Life Science: A functional amino acid concept

China-based Jiangsu Fuhai Biotech Co., Ltd.: A soybean peptide

Bioiberica: Animal-based co-products

Lucta: SCPs and sensory additive