Sunday, December 17, 2017

18/12/2017: Is flymeal the new fishmeal?

By Nick Piggot, CEO & Co-Founder, Nutri-Tech

It’s no secret that the global population is growing rapidly, with recent predictions that we will reach 9.1bn people as soon as 2050

It is also well documented that much of this population growth is happening in less developed countries - countries which are also becoming wealthier.
Image credit: Nutri-Tech

As incomes and levels of education increase, the burgeoning middle classes in these countries are spending more money on food, and in particular, meat & fish. According to the FAO, annual production is projected to increase from 218 million tonnes in 1997 to 376 million tonnes by 2030.

This presents a huge opportunity for both aquaculture producers and feed manufacturers, but it’s not going to be easy. 70 percent of the world’s annual agricultural production (including 348 million tonnes of soybeans) is already dedicated to feed production, and we are quickly running out of land to cultivate it.

Equally, the supply of marine fishmeal, the mainstay protein ingredient of many aquafeeds, has stagnated in recent years, and as a result the price per tonne has skyrocketed, with little expectation of recovery (see chart). So what next?

The solution is not simply to find ways to produce more, but instead we need to use resources more efficiently, and more effectively. For one, we can start seriously considering the growing number of options in the alternative protein sector, such as micro-algae, single-celled organisms and insects, which all have significant advantages over traditional ingredients.

Of the three, insect products have shown the most promise, and gained the most traction, with extensive research taking place at both academic and strategic industry levels. Companies like Nutrition Technologies in Asia, and others in Europe & America, are working with a global manufacturers, dedicating resources to finding, testing and supporting insect-based protein products. But the real proof of the pudding is in the investment – and with over US$117m USD flowing into insects-as-feed businesses since 2014, the investors have clearly picked their horse.

A world of insect potential
There are over 900,000 distinct insect species, and at any point in time it is estimated that there are some 10 quintillion (10-18) individual insects alive. But not all insects are created equal, and there are clear advantages in producing certain species over others. Nutritionally, crickets, mealworms and fly larvae offer the best value.

For example, farmed Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Hermetia illucens) typically consist of >50 percent crude protein (dry matter), with a well-balanced amino acid profile (see table). Black soldier fly larvae have been cultivated on a small-scale for pet reptiles and amphibians for years, thanks to their high calcium and phosphorous content, a fact that hasn’t been missed by researchers and animal nutritionists.

Unprocessed Black soldier fly larvae typically have a 25 – 35 percent fat content depending on their feedstock – generally too high for direct feed applications. However, after partial de-fatting this reduces down to around eight percent, bringing the protein content of the Black soldier fly larvae press-cake up to 65-68 percent crude protein, so when dried and powdered, its physical properties and nutrient profile are comparable to prime fishmeal.

Researchers and nutritionists are excited by the similarities, with fishmeal replacement studies taking place on a whole range of species including; turbot, salmon, seabass, shrimp, and tilapia. Research generally indicates that modest fishmeal replacement rates (under 50%) can deliver equal or improved growth performance, and in some instances low inclusion rates (2-5%) may significantly improve growth improve performance, due to the added functional benefits of the insect protein and minerals.

The thinking behind this is that insects - and flies in particular - make-up a small but significant part of fish diets in the wild. For exactly that reason flymeal represents more than just a simple fishmeal substitute, a job that is being done by poultry-meal and other meat by-products.

Yes, the protein-replacement opportunity is attractive, as is the amino acid profile, but it’s the research currently ongoing around functional benefits which could enable flymeal products to command a premium over fishmeal.

Read the full article with charts, HERE.

Visit the Nutri-Tech website, HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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