US-French biotech company Arbiom has developed a new wood-based protein, dubbed SylPro, to meet a burgeoning demand for sustainable fish feed for farmed fish. It is hoped that one day the protein alternative will also find its way into the market for human food.
Typical fish feed products rely on soy crops and fishmeal – contentious in that they cause deforestation and depletion of fish stocks respectively. With a new spotlight cast on unsustainable practices in the fishing industry, seeking eco-friendly alternatives throughout the supply chain has become a growing need.
Arbiom uses a fermentation process to break down wood residue from lumber mills, converting it into protein without any chemical or processing additives. The firm demonstrated the product’s viability in March this year – producing around 2.5 tons of the protein without any quality concerns. It has also previously shown that rainbow trout, when having 20% of their diet substituted with SylPro, had an equal lifespan to those consuming traditional fish or plant based protein.
Now, Arbiom is working to scale up its technology, anticipated to add five programs to its pipeline and working to create around six tons of SylPro by the end of 2021. The team is working alongside partners at Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant at the Sylfeed Consortium – an international project that seeks to address Europe’s protein gap and which has committed to scaling-up Arbiom’s technology over the next four years.
Other fish feed alternatives include proteins derived from insects – with Paris–based InnovaFeed in the process of developing the world’s largest insect farming facility for this purpose.
Global demand for food – and protein substitutes in particular – is only expected to grow. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, global demand for animal protein will double by 2050. As such, Arbiom hopes their product will meet a growing need for protein alternatives in human nutrition as well.