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A journey towards a more resilient selenized yeast production system

Lallemand invested in its production infrastructure to strengthen its resilience and adaptability to dynamic market conditions and address sustainability goals.

Credits: Lallemand Animal Nutrition
May 23, 2024

As part of its commitment to adapt to market changes and proactively address the evolving demands of its customers, Lallemand unveiled its strategic decision to make substantial investments in one of its selenized yeast plants.

For the past four years, the feed industry, alongside numerous other sectors, has been impacted by broader economic factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and escalating energy costs. In light of these challenges, Lallemand Animal Nutrition invested in its production infrastructure in Felixstowe (UK), one of the company’s main production sites for selenium-enriched yeast (ALKOSEL).

These enhancements are strategically designed to strengthen the company's resilience and adaptability in response to external pressures and dynamic market conditions and to address sustainability goals while remaining a reliable partner for customers. By investing in these improvements, the company confirms its dedication to delivering high-quality products, meeting the market demand for competitive offerings, while proactively managing risks, optimizing operational efficiency and reducing its environmental footprint by optimizing energy consumption.

How is selenized yeast produced?

Producing concentrated, selenized yeast is the fruit of proper yeast strain selection, specific process development and strict quality control. Specifically selected yeast strains can convert significant amounts of inorganic selenium to around 100 different organic selenium compounds (such as selenomethionine and selenocysteine). Due to their individual genetic makeup, each yeast strain will bring its own profile in terms of exact composition in organic selenium compounds. Regarding the production of Lallemand’s selenized yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae NCYC R397, ALKOSEL), a specific production process has been developed and is constantly optimized to ensure optimal and consistent quality of the product.

ALKOSEL is produced by fed-batch culture: nutrients, including selenium, are supplied incrementally to the growing cells.

“The crucial part is to add the right amount of selenium at the right time. Adding too little results in a low concentration of organic selenium in the final product, whereas adding too much will inhibit the growth of the yeast,” explains Elsa Parmentier, R&D project manager at Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Once the yeast has reached its optimal growth, it is carefully washed and harvested by centrifugation and the selenium-enriched yeast cream is further processed to inactivate the yeast cells and dried in a drum dryer.

Strategic investments driving eco-friendly improvements

“Drying of the yeast cream is one of the highest energy consuming phases of the whole process and, over the past few years, we have made significant investments to reduce this cost and streamline our overall production process. In 2023, we have invested in a new drying technology, allowing us to ensure a more energy efficient process (nearly 40% reduction on electricity),” Andre Zigani, operations and plant director at Lallemand Felixstowe, explained.

“We are producing our own energy on-site. Combined heat and power deliver 100% of plant electricity, 25% of steam and 10% of hot water requirements. Also, new blowers have allowed us to reduce energy consumption in air supply for fermentation by 30%. Concerning water management, in 2017, we installed a reverse osmosis (RO) solution that reduced plant potable water consumption by 35%. This has an economic impact as it enables us to optimize production costs and reduce our environmental footprint. We are also currently investing in the reduction of our gas consumption by 50% by the end of 2025,” Zigani said.

Matthieu Baulez, Lallemand Animal Nutrition product management and supply chain director, said, “We have strengthened our supply chain relationships and diversified our raw material sourcing strategies to enhance resilience against disruptions and minimize dependencies on single suppliers or regions. This proactive approach ensures continuity of supply and minimizes the potential impact of external disruptions on our operations.”