Sustainable marine proteins for poultry feed alternative receives funding

Tuesday 20th June 2023, 11:18am

A consortium led by Roslin Innovation Centre- based sustainable aquaculture innovators Aquanzo Ltd has received Innovate UK funding to investigate the feasibility of farming artemia, a small marine shrimp similar to krill, as an alternative circular produced marine protein.

Funded by Innovate UK, in collaboration with Agri-EPI Centre and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), the 24-month project will explore the use of different agricultural by-products to produce artemia, in turn investigating the nutritional benefits as a broiler chick starter feed on gut health, lifetime growth and performance.

Marine proteins, such as krill, are one of the best sources of nutrients for young farm terrestrial and aquatic animals. However, harvesting of marine ingredients from the wild has reached its limit and has a significant impact on the environment and costs have reduced its use in commercial young animal feeding.

Aquanzo is developing technologies to farm a new source of marine proteins, artemia, sustainably, at scale and on land, artemia, a marine zooplankton. 

“Farming marine protein has the potential to revolutionise the animal feed sector, by combining the best of marine ingredients - nutritional value, taste and energy - and farming - scalable, controllable and a sustainable precision platform.

“Marine protein Green House Gas emissions are the main contributor to aquaculture environmental impact accentuated by long distance transport and the long-term resilience of the sector is dependent on a fragile environmental balance under climate change threat."

Remi Gratacap, CEO, Aquanzo Ltd

At the industrial scale, Aquanzo is forecasting production capacity of thousands of metric tonnes of artemia meal per year per industrial facility.

Agri-EPI Centre will provide life cycle analysis, measuring exactly how environmentally sustainable the product is at each stage of its development, in addition to project management.

“Using this scientific method for quantifying sustainability we will evaluate the production of Artemia and compare the results to the production of fishmeal. We hope this study will prove Artemia to be an environmentally sustainable source of protein and a valuable part of the solution to the growing challenges faced by the aquaculture industry."

Emily Laskin, Sustainability Analyst, Agri-EPI Centre

The SRUC will undertake the feed performance trials on starter broiler feed and monitor the growth cycle.

“Following the establishment of its nutritional value, Artemeal provides great opportunity to bring back into starter diets for broilers the nutritional and functional benefits traditionally derived from the use of fishmeal.”

Dr Jos Houdijk, Head of Monogastric Science Research Centre, SRUC

Funding for this project was awarded was secure under the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme, 50 projects have secured valuable funding.

The competitions, which were again delivered by Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production challenge, covered a range of important innovation areas, including climate-focused solutions, farming technology and smaller research and development (R&D) concepts still at their early stages.

In each case, the ability to demonstrate a project’s role in meeting net zero, productivity and sustainability ambitions across the food space was key to their success.