It has joined a consortium led by Entomics, a company founded by Cambridge University graduates, and will provide general expertise in fish farming and specific knowledge on fish nutrition and health. It will also be carrying out assessments and fish trials during the project, which starts today.
Entomics, which also has Reading University involved in its project, is seeking to work with leading and emerging producers of black soldier fly larvae in producing new insect products for a series of animal feed sectors. The use of insects for aquaculture feed only became legal in the EU this July, and the market is expected to grow rapidly. The consortium's project won £900,000 from funding body Innovate UK earlier this year.
Entomics says that insect processing into fish feed ingredients remains under-explored, with minimal modulation of derived insect meal nutritional profiles and functional properties.
It has developed a suite of novel insect "butchering" processes, providing opportunities for generating protein-enriched & chitin-deprived insect-derived meals, particularly relevant for the carnivorous fish feed sector.
The company says its proprietary bioprocessing pipeline provides an opportunity for developing species-tailored, functional meals with increased digestiblity and positive fish health & well-being impacts.
More than a fishmeal replacement
Institute of Aquaculture lecturer Oscar Monroig, will be looking at the nutrition aspect of the new feed, and immunologist Simon MacKenzie will cover the health aspects.
The IoA is also advertising a part-time post-doctorate post for the project, and the university's technicians will be involved in the fish trials.
"We will be assessing the impact of different insect meal products developed by the other partners/work packages on fish health and immunity," said Monroig. "We will be running fish trials and analysis of health parameters.
"The insect meal products manufactured by Entomics in collaboration with Reading University will be used not as a mere fishmeal replacement alternative, but rather as a feed ingredient for functional feeds aiming to enhance health of fish."
Global fish feed manufacturer Biomar will manufacture the experimental diets at its manufacturing and development centre in Brande, Denmark.