US-based insect company, Stratium, is one of the registrants of the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge. The company produces a nutrient-rich protein meal derived from black soldier fly larvae at its facility in Buffalo, New York. “Stratium has more than ten years’ of experience in developing formulated feeds using patented feed preparation processes to create high-quality, consistent protein powder that is well-positioned to replace krill and other aquatic ingredients in aquafeeds,” Radu Popa, head of science at Stratium, told Aquafeed.com.
Stratium has been working with third-party academic research partners to validate the optimal displacement ratios of aquatic ingredients, while at the same time, identifying balanced nutritional, health, palatability and economic benefits from the use of its protein on various fish species of fish such as Red drum and Atlantic salmon. The product can be safely included in the fish feed manufacturing process without impacting the quality of the final feed. “Our black solider fly processes allow for our material to be minimally processed with heat, while achieving efficacious pathogen kill, allowing for better preservation of valuable nutrients. Our protein meal manufacturing processes result in a quality krill displacement product,” Popa explained.
“Numerous studies have shown that fishmeal and fish oil ingredients can be replaced with other components (including plant-based and microbial oils) with no reduction in producing high-quality fish, regardless of whether they are freshwater or marine. Given the emergence of proven, scalable, sustainable protein production systems, now is the time to begin a calculated transition to sustainable ingredients like black soldier fly in order to grow fish for human consumption,” Popa stated.
“We believe that insect agriculture is the missing link in the sustainability of our current agricultural systems. In nature, insects act as decomposers and larger species rely on insects for protein and other nutrients. The positioning of our technology is to use food and agricultural waste, materials that are abundantly available, and upcycle them using bioconversion, as a feed ingredient for fish and other animal feeds. Globally, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually. We have the ability to upcycle that material into protein using insects as a bioconverter, creating a scalable, sustainable, cost-competitive displacement for wild-caught krill and fishmeal in aquafeeds,” Popa said.
In terms of price, Popa said that incidental societal and environmental costs should also be taken into account. “For example, producing protein from insects has the lowest CO2e footprint and some of the lowest water consumption of any current protein or feed production methods,” Popa said.
“As humans, our food systems are currently in contrast with themselves. Society is actually wasting a lot of food, but at the same time, society is running out of food. We have already pushed the limits on the impacts of resource extraction on the environment, and continuing to harvest the ocean’s natural stock is not sustainable. We understand that ocean stocks of fishmeal are decreasing and harvesting arctic krill has been promoted as an alternative protein source for fish feeds,” Popa said. “Our black soldier fly process does not rely on harvesting natural resources, but rather, on upcycling food waste that was destined for landfilling. This creates a valuable product that can serve as a circular, low-carbon alternative to the depletion of our last remaining untouched biodiversity systems.”
“Our goal of participating in the F3 Replacement Challenge is to bring global awareness to sustainable, scalable, alternatives to overfishing wild caught stock, and prevent the krill fishing industry from disturbing our natural ecosystems,” Popa concluded.
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