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Arbiom presses ahead with commercialisation of wood-to-food product after it receives successful results from aquaculture trials.

“This is one of the first studies that we have completed within the agricultural space and we will have some others coming out soon which will analyse our products in other markets.”

US agriculture-biotechnology company Arbiom has passed a significant milestone toward commercialisation of its novel protein ingredient for aquaculture feed after receiving successful results from its first scientific studies.

Arbiom produces a product called SylPro, which is a yeast single-cell protein that is produced using wood-derived media in fermentation and final downstream processing to achieve appropriate properties as a viable replacement for fish meal or plant protein concentrates.

The company said that SylPro has been developed to solve the challenges of protein sourcing and gastrointestinal health for aquaculture and livestock producers.

The studies, conducted in collaboration with researchers at Texas A&M University, one of the leading aquaculture specialists in the US, were designed to compare Arbiom’s (@arbiom) protein product SylPro to conventional plant and animal protein sources, evaluating both its material handling properties and nutritional performance.

An initial trial assessing the material handling characteristics of SylPro suggest that it performs well in a range of extrusion conditions at varying inclusion levels in extruded feed.

Results also highlighted additional functional binding properties conferred, which suggest SylPro could reduce the need for binding agents. The study concludes that Arbiom’s protein ingredient behaves similar, or superior, to conventional protein ingredients in extruded feeds. The results were also presented at the 2019 World Aquaculture Society conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In a second study, the nutritional performance of SylPro was evaluated in hybrid striped bass. Feeds were formulated with Arbiom’s high-protein ingredient at various inclusion rates. Growth (body weight), body composition, nutrient digestibility and general gastrointestinal health were evaluated over the course of a 60-day period.

Commenting on the studies, Ricardo Ekmay, PhD, Vice President of Nutrition for Arbiom, told Bio Market Insights: “This is one of the first studies that we have completed within the agricultural space and we will have some others coming out soon which will analyse our products in other markets. This is the first one that we have completed and we are excited about the results.

“This proves that our product is now a suitable replacement for fishmeal or other plant-based proteins. And, this helps us to bring our first commercial product to market.  Not only is it suitable, but it is quite competitive in terms of performance.”

Ekmay said that Arbiom was going to continue its research trials with several different animal species, including the Atlantic salmon, tilapia and rainbow trout.

Speaking about Arbiom’s product, Ekmay explained: “The world will be looking at feeding a lot more people within the next 25 years, so there will be an increased demand for protein. We want to be able to address this sustainable protein need in a way where we are not swapping one existing protein for another. For example, replacing a beef burger with a soy protein burger. Instead, our approach creates a new protein. We are taking something that is not a protein and making a protein out of it. In essence, we are not shuffling protein into a protein pie; we are actually making the pie bigger.”

When asked about the use of wood as a source of food, Ekmay replied: “We are leveraging underutilised proportions of the timber industry. This includes the proportion of wood that would largely be burned on a timber processing site for energy. In essence, we are repurposing wood that would normally be burnt because it does not make any economic sense to transfer it for some other purpose. We are diverting it towards the production of food and feed protein.”

He also said that Arbiom was looking to work with the sustainable forestry industry to tap into existing sustainable practices and leverage wood that is undervalued or underutilised.

Looking forward, Ekmay said that Arbiom was aiming to improve the characteristics of its protein and “ultimately make the best protein possible”.

He concluded: “The fish meal industry requires a lot of volume. So, we are also looking to upscale production to really meet those demands. We are always welcoming partners to come alongside us and help us push forward into this innovation. There are multiple products that we can produce from this same platform. We can meet those demands, which puts Arbiom in a strong position compared to many other companies out there. We are excited about this platform and what the future holds.”

If you are interested in more bio-economy news stories like this, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: 5 Minutes With…. Emily Glenn of Arbiom.

Read: Forest-based biomass industry: Where are we today and where are going tomorrow?

Read: Expert View: Europe’s policy to treat wood as low-carbon fuel poised to harm global forests.

Read: Could milk protein be the solution to our plastic packaging crisis?

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