The plant-based protein ingredient ME-PRO – short for microbially enhanced protein – is manufactured by Prairie AquaTech of Brookings, South Dakota.
The company’s CEO, Mark Luecke, told the GAA that its technology increases protein content and also makes it more digestible.
Prairie AquaTech ferments soybean meal in 50,000-gallon bioreactors, with a naturally occurring microorganism or microbe, using sugars as a feedstock.
While soy is the primary plant product being used, Luecke said the company is looking at other substrates, such as dried distillers’ grain and canola.
Prairie AquaTech has worked with aquaculture producers around the world, and with a variety of species, including salmonids.
Rainbow trout currently being sold at Whole Foods Market in the US are raised on a diet with a ME-PRO inclusion rate of 35 per cent.
In trials conducted in the company’s own RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) research facility, ME-PRO has been shown to drastically lower phosphorous discharges from fish waste and is contaminant-free, said Luecke.
‘If you’re feeding in an aquatic environment, anything not digested by fish or shrimp ends up back in the water. Water quality leads to many issues, like disease, unwanted growth of algal blooms and polluted estuaries,’ he told the GAA.
‘We’re focused on the digestibility of the nutrients in the feed formulation. If we focus on having the most digestible nitrogen and phosphorous, it won’t be our ingredient causing issues in aquatic environments.’
The GAA hosts the innovation awards at its annual GOAL conference, which is due to be held online this year, from October 5-8.
The other two finalists will be announced in the GAA’s Advocate newsletter in the next two weeks.
At last year’s GOAL conference, held in Chennai in India, the innovation award winner was Dundee based Ace Aquatec, voted for by delegates for its humane electric stunner.