“We are aware that krill meal is an ingredient with complex properties, with a combination of good palatability and good nutritional values and it is, therefore, difficult to replace using a single ingredient or supplement,” said Olivier Hartz, commercial development lead at Unibio. “Consequently, we need to combine functional and nutritional ingredients/supplements from different sources in a synergistic or complementary way. Unibio is participating in the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge in partnership with Lucta, where our protein Uniprotein® replacing krill meal will be a customized product for the challenge, combining the nutritional qualities of Uniprotein® with a prototype functional palatant from Lucta."
Uniprotein® is a single-cell protein produced through fermentation based on methane gas. The patented U-Loop® technology from Unibio has been developed over the past 20 years in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The technology uses the natural process where Methylococcus capsulatus feeds on methane (natural gas and biogas), oxygen and minerals.
Uniprotein® has been extensively tested in a number of aqua species globally, such as salmon, rainbow trout, vannamei shrimp, seabream, yellow tail and eel. The company is currently running advanced trials in salmon, seabream, pike perch, sturgeon, and yellow tail, among others. “We are also looking with great interest into carnivore seawater fish that are intended for large production in the Red Sea within the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For this purpose, we are partnering with relevant research institutions as well as feed operators,” Hartz explained.
Results reported so far with Uniprotein® for different aqua species have shown that Uniprotein® can successfully replace up to 50% of fishmeal in the diets, without any negative impact on the survival, health or overall growth performance of the fish. These diets have not been fish-free diets, but the inclusion of fishmeal was pushed to the lowest possible limit.
“We expect that Uniprotein® can perform equally well in a krill-free diet, as our amino acid profile is similar to fishmeal. However, we think that a krill-free diet also should include a palatant or sensory additive like the one from Lucta. Hence, the combination of our two products seems mutually beneficial,” Hartz said. The companies expect that this combined product will substitute krill meal at a 5% inclusion.
In terms of price, Hartz stated that Unibio will be able to produce Uniprotein® in a very cost-effective way. “This is mainly due to its ability to enter into long-term contracts to supply it at a fixed price. The production of Uniprotein® is not affected or interrupted by seasonality (weather changes, harvest time, etc.), the effects of global warming, or dependent on agriculture-related raw materials. The quality of Uniprotein® is uniform and without pesticides. Our ambition is to become a major protein ingredient in future feed formulations, enabling farmers to have a cost-efficient, secured, and sustainable aqua production.”
“Krill meal is an expensive protein source for aquafeeds and is primarily used to increase feed intake. Uniprotein®, being more cost-effective, can compete effectively as a more sustainable source to replace krill and fishmeal at non-volatile prices,” Hartz said.
The Uniprotein® product for this challenge was produced at Unibio’s Innovation Centre in Kalundborg, Denmark. “The main constraint in the supply of Uniprotein® is the time it takes to build a plant and secure the necessary partnerships and investments to accelerate growth. We received significant investment in March this year, which will enable us to scale up our production to supply large quantities of Uniprotein®,” Hartz explained.
“Krill meal is not sustainably available at the levels the growing aquaculture industry requires, which raises important concerns on the potential ecological impact its continued use will impose on ocean food webs. Consequently, we need alternatives to krill meal, and we expect that the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge will show us great suggestions on how this can be achieved,” Hartz concluded.
Aquafeed.com has been interviewing some registrants of the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge. See below.