Trial shows Calysta’s FeedKind can replace 30 percent of fishmeal in yellowtail feed

A trial at Japan’s Kindai University has shown that Menlo Park, California-based Calysta Inc.’s FeedKind bacterial protein meal (BPM) can replace up to 30 percent of fishmeal protein – or up to 20 percent of total feed – in the diet of yellowtail without any impact on growth rate, digestibility, daily feeding rate, or feed efficiency.

The paper, "Methanotroph (Methylococcus capsulatus, Bath) bacteria meal as an alternative protein source for Japanese yellowtail, Seriola quinqueradiata," written by a group of researchers led by Amal Biswas, was published in the journal Aquaculture. It details two trials – one of 1,500 yellowtail fish, and the second of 800 – analyzed over an eight-week period. In both cases, a control diet was used alongside increasing concentrations of FeedKind. Fish survivability was 100 percent across all tests, with no significant difference between the control diets and the 25 percent inclusion rate across both trial groups.

“Japanese yellowtail is one of the most popular fish in Japan and is known the world over for sushi, but farmers have had to contend with unpredictable feed costs, a problem that will only be exacerbated without effective alternative proteins,” Biswas said in a press release.

The non-GMO protein had already been proven as an effective feed for salmon, trout, and shrimp, as well as pets and terrestrial livestock. It is approved for commercial use in feeds throughout the European Union, Japan, and Thailand.

FeedKind is produced by fermenting natural gas using a naturally occurring bacteria, producing a single-cell protein. The inputs are just methane, nitrogen, and oxygen. The gases are mixed in a proprietary fermenter where they are consumed by the bacteria, which produce a single cell protein. This is then separated from the aqueous media in which it is grown, with the water and nutrients returned to the fermenter. Then, the single-cell protein is either further processed to purified products or dried and packaged to customer specifications. Finally, the products are shipped as ingredients for pet food or animal feed.

Calysta has a FeedKind production facility at the Centre for Process Innovation in Teesside, England, producing material for product development and customer trials. Calysta also has a 50/50 joint venture company, Calysseo, with French animal feed maker Adisseo, which is a subsidiary of the Beijing, China-based China National Bluestar Group.

The new company is currently building a commercial-scale FeedKind production facility in Chongqing, China for supply to Asia. They plan to produce 20,000 metric tons (MT) of FeedKind protein starting next year, with a second phase of development to bring 80,000 MT of capacity online shortly afterwards.

Besides Adisseo, Calysta has received funding from bp Ventures, which made a USD 30 million (EUR 25 million) investment in 2019. The investment agreement also established a strategic partnership between BP and Calysta around gas and power supply.

As many feed mills already formulate pelletized feeds with soy protein replacing a part of the fishmeal, FeedKind had been seen bysome as competing against soy protein as a fishmeal extender, rather than directly against fishmeal, according to Calysta Vice President and Aquaculture Lead Allan LeBlanc. But LeBlanc told SeafoodSource this study shows FeedKind is moving into the latter category quickly. 

“In our experiment, we directly replaced fishmeal,” Calysta Vice President and Aquaculture Lead Allan LeBlanc told SeafoodSource. “Generally, FeedKind has been able to reduce marine protein in feeds beyond what is traditionally possible with vegetable proteins like soy. This is generally due to (1) no anti-nutritional factors like saponins, tannins, or fiber, and (2) an amino acid profile that more closely resembles marine protein.”

Whether it would be possible to use both 20 percent soy and 20 percent FeedKind to further reduce the fishmeal content of feeds still needs to be tested, he added.

“It may be possible, but we did not test this specific formulation in this trial,” Leblanc said. “In other trials conducted with feed companies, we have used control diets that contain both soy protein and fishmeal and further replaced the fishmeal fraction with FeedKind. In those trials we saw equivalent performance, showing that FeedKind can further enhance feed formulations that already utilize soy protein.”

When using soy, addition of taurine and amino acids is needed. LeBlanc said that since taurine is only found in animal protein, as fishmeal is replaced with FeedKind (or vegetable proteins) taurine must be supplemented to keep the diet in balance. However, FeedKind contains all other essential amino acids, he said.

While the company has not supplied pricing that would allow an economic comparison, it has made a presentation on the environmental benefits of the product, emphasizing a reduction in use of land and water versus soy and other proteins. The company said a FeedKind plant can produce 100,000 MT of protein per annum on one-tenth of a square kilometer of (non-arable) land, while producing the protein equivalent from soybeans would require 2,510 square kilometers of arable land. The the company also claims that FeedKind protein uses 90 percent less blue water than the equivalent soy protein or wheat production.  

Photo courtesy of Calysta 


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