Insect producer, Nutrition Technologies, has registered to the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge with a composite of two derivative materials from black soldier fly larvae (BSFL, Hermetia illucens) meal.
The product is different from a simple BSF meal. “Our krill replacement product is a combination of a dried defatted insect protein meal and a liquid insect-based palatant. BSFL are first fed on a diet high in fermentation byproducts that contain nutrients to boost palatability for saltwater fish. These larvae are then processed in the same way as regular BSF meal. After processing, palatability is supplemented with our proprietary insect-based additive with salmon chemosensory requirements in mind. Our liquid palatant additive is a nutrient-dense BSFL extract that is high in water-soluble peptides, serving as an ideal attractant. This compound-product concept was developed following some R&D breakthroughs and the product development timing was perfect for entering into this challenge,” explained Martin Zorrilla, CTO at Nutrition Technologies.
The company has tested its BSF protein meal in a few shrimp and Barramundi commercial feeds and further trials. “A recent shrimp trial successfully showed that high inclusions of BSF led to an increase in survivorship, feed intake and disease tolerance. In a parallel trial for Barramundi, there was a statistically significant improvement in weight gain and feed conversion compared to fish fed with a commercial diet,” Zorrilla explained.
“From BSFL, we can create several products to help feed the growing agriculture and feed industries around the world. These products are suitable for application in pet food, livestock and aquafeed, and have a range of proven functional benefits which improve the animals’ health and growth,” Zorrilla said.
The company has already several products on the market ranging from agricultural bio-fertilizers and animal feeds and is currently developing several new products tailored to precise market needs. “For example, we have products aimed at ornamental fish, which use earlier-stage larvae that undergo specific feeding and processing steps. We are also working on a very exciting anti-Salmonella BSFL feed additive for disease prevention and control. With over 20 R&D staff, we have one of the largest research teams in the industry and we apply those resources to cutting-edge product development that solves pain points for our clients in aquaculture and animal feed,” Zorrilla explained.
The F3 Challenges are designed to make aquafeeds more sustainable and Nutrition Technologies has just completed an LCA for a full cradle-to-gate assessment of its production system. “Our Hi.Protein insect meal outperforms fishmeal and other marine ingredients on a number of metrics, thanks partly to the type of non-feed raw materials that we use, and partly due to our low-energy tropical production system. Our land usage, water usage and carbon emissions are significantly lower than many traditional ingredients,” Zorrilla stated.
“In terms of cost-efficiency, our BSFL production uses a zero-waste production model reared on clean and traceable agro-industrial byproducts. We have developed our own tropical production system which is not only low-cost to build and operate but also uses minimal energy and is a zero-waste process. This low-energy model means that our company benefits from a very low cost of production, but with the same high standards as any European or North American manufacturer, so we are able to pass on those savings to the customer. This makes us one of the most competitively priced suppliers on the global market,” Zorrilla stated.
Zorrilla said that the challenge is a great opportunity to boost engagement amongst competitor companies. “It brings focus to a lesser-studied topic of palatability in aquaculture. Insect-derived products are an ideal way to replace krill as it is sustainably produced and have similar qualities in terms of acceptability.”
“We always try to keep in mind that in the wild, insects are a complete feed for the fish that consume them. Atlantic salmon, for example, when they consume insects do so to gain the full suite of benefits that complete food provides: everything from protein to carotenoids and minerals. Insects are often seen from a very narrow lens as a source of protein but we view them as much more. This challenge highlights the potential of insects as palatants and reminds us that the applications of insect products are diverse because their role in natural systems is diverse,” Zorrilla concluded.
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