F3 Krill Replacement Challenge: An insect-based palatability enhancer

Singapore-based insect producer, Protenga, is one of the registrants of the challenge with a sustainable palatability solution based on black soldier fly larvae as the primary raw material source.

Leo Wein, CEO & founder of Protenga
August 22, 2023

Singapore-based insect producer, Protenga, is one of the registrants of the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge. The company has developed a process and technology platform for sustainable palatability in aquaculture that is based on black soldier fly larvae as the primary raw material source.

Protenga will participate in the F3 Krill Replacement challenge with Cens+ for Aqua products, which are available both in dry and liquid format for inclusion in the base feed mesh as well as for use as a coating after extrusion. The product contains a high amount of bioactive peptides and free amino acids, specifically formulated and controlled to mimic modes of action of marine ingredients that are conventionally used to stimulate feed intake.

“Cens+ is designed to provide both palatability for improved feed intake, reduction of feed losses and water quality as well as nutrition with high digestibility and immune-boosting functional peptides. As such, it is well-positioned to replace krill meal with superior functionality and performance in aquafeeds, while preserving wild krill populations and the global marine ecosystems that depend on it,” said Leo Wein, CEO & founder of Protenga.

Protenga’s products have been tested on several species, primarily marine carnivorous fish both in tropical and temperate climates, including seabass, grouper, shrimp, lobster, salmon, trout, seabream and yellow tail. Some customers have also used them as part of entirely fish-free feeds.

Nutritionally, Protenga’s insect-based ingredients have been able to replace high-spec fishmeal at high inclusion rates (e.g. 20-30% total diet) with more than 90% digestibility as well as growth rates and FCR that were on par with best-performing commercial benchmark feeds.

“We are excited to be able to specifically test our Cens+ palatability solution in a high-quality controlled experiment setup against high-grade krill meal. Beating krill meal will be like a litmus test for the quality of our products and paving the way towards a sustainable aquaculture that can strive without reliance on wild-caught marine resources and the significant ecosystem impact that their extraction causes,” Wein stated.

Generally speaking, the feed manufacturing process has an impact on feed attractability and palatability and how and when ingredients are incorporated is key. “We are excited about the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge because the organizers have developed a very rigorous experimental design including the base formulation, the manufacturing process and the trial design itself,” Wein said.

“Our Cens+ for Aqua ingredient will be partially included in the base feed mesh prior to extrusion and partially applied as a topical coating after the drying. In both cases, the application is simple and straightforward using conventional equipment and processes, so that the products can be easily incorporated by feed millers without extra processing costs. In particular, Cens+ for Aqua is designed to leverage the feed manufacturing processes to activate optimal effectiveness on palatability while retaining its nutritional value,” Wein explained.

In terms of price, Wein said that its solution can be cost-competitive and provide superior value (beyond its sustainability) compared to krill ingredients. “Cens+ is still a novel product for us, compared to our Hermet Protein (insect protein meal) line which has been in the market for two years. The good news here is that we have already developed a very solid, cost-competitive and scalable platform with our Smart Insect Farm technology for the production of the insect raw material that we use to process into Cens+ for Aqua.”

“We absolutely believe that krill is dispensable and replaceable for high-quality aquaculture. There is little doubt that krill meal is a high-quality source of nutrition, but there is also little doubt that krill is an absolutely critical ecosystem enabler for our oceans and marine life. With our participation in the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge, we aim to demonstrate that krill meal is also dispensable from a health-promoting and palatability-inducing effect by more sustainable and circular products,” Wein concluded.

Don't miss interviews with other registrants of the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge:

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