Finding a sustainable source of feed for aquaculture operations is one of the industry’s biggest challenges. If large quantities of baitfish are required to produce a relatively small plate-sized fillet, aquaculture cannot be sustainable. That’s why many companies have been pouring millions of dollars into research on finding alternative protein sources to be used in aquaculture feed mixtures. Most consumers are familiar with some of these more popular alternatives, such as soy protein, but these options can often decrease fish health and lead to a less palatable final product.
KnipBio, a Massachusetts company that produces alternative fishmeal, announced in January that it is capable of scaling up production of its single-cell protein manufacturing process. These single-cell proteins are a more suitable replacement for the fish-based proteins and carotenoids found in a fish’s wild diet.
Increasing production brings the company one step closer to going commercial with their alternative product. As reported by The Fish Site, “Research has shown KnipBio’s single cell protein closely resembles the amino acid profile of fishmeal and can also be a source of valuable immunonutrients, making it a promising alternative.” (Read comments from KnipBio’s CEO here.)
Despite these encouraging steps, serious questions still remain about the commercial viability of these products. Before single-cell proteins can compete with fish meal and fish oil, or even more established alternative products like soy proteins or insect meal, pilot-scale projects will need to demonstrate cost effective business models as well as the ability to scale production to the size demanded by large farms.