The EniferBio team, from left: Anssi Rantasalo, Joosu Kuivanen, Simo Ellilä, Heikki Keskitalo and Ville Pihlajaniemi. Photo: Skretting.

Novel ingredient moves to feed trial stage

Feed manufacturer Skretting is a step closer to validating a new mycoprotein ingredient for use in aquaculture. 

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The ingredient, branded Pekilo, is produced by Finnish biotech start-up EniferBio, winner of the last year’s Feed & Food Tech Challenge run by Skretting’s parent company, Nutreco.

EniferBio has announced the successful completion of process piloting trials and the beginning of testing Pekilo in salmon feeding trials at Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre (ARC) in Stavanger, Norway.

Jenna Bowyer: "Our desktop assessment verified the potential of this ingredient". Photo: Skretting.

Speeding up the process

“We have been working closely with the EniferBio team to support them and help speed up the process to receive a commercially relevant novel ingredient for the first validation at our salmon R&D facilities,” said Skretting’s novel ingredients category manager, Jenna Bowyer.

“Our desktop assessment verified the potential of this ingredient to be an alternative protein source to marine and soy proteins in our aquafeeds. This is another example of Skretting’s commitment to identifying, developing and commercialising novel ingredients that can have a positive contribution to the sustainability of the aquaculture industry.”

Beet molasses

To produce the quantity required for Skretting testing, EniferBio teamed up with Tereos, a global player in the sugar, alcohol and starch markets. Tereos provided the raw material for the trial, in the form of vinasse, a by-product from the production of ethanol from beet molasses. EniferBio’s process allows the efficient conversion of dilute side streams such as vinasse into a valuable protein ingredient for aquaculture feed.

“This is a very important step for us as a company as we re-establish the Pekilo production process as a major source of aquafeed protein,” said EniferBio chief executive Simo Ellilä.

“We believe the process is unique in offering a cost-competitive, sustainable alternative to soy protein concentrate. The process is very scalable, and Pekilo can be produced close to the end users – promising to decrease dependence on imported protein. This pilot trial is an excellent example of bringing together the whole value chain in Europe. It has been an absolute pleasure making this happen with the great teams at Tereos and Skretting.”

Sustainability road map

The Nutreco Feed & Food Tech Challenge won by EniferBio last year acknowledges the best breakthrough innovations within livestock farming, aquaculture and alternative food proteins. The prize included a scientific validation trial.

Skretting is now running the first tests with Pekilo with the ultimate aim of commercialisation. As part of Nutreco’s Sustainability RoadMap launched earlier this year, Skretting has committed to an inclusion of 5-10% ingredients from alternative novel sources by 2025.

EniferBio, a spin-off company from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, was founded in 2020 to further develop and commercialise the company owned Pekilo technology.

Originally developed and used by the Finnish forest industry at commercial scale, the Pekilo technology enables biotechnological conversion of dilute biorefining side streams into a high-protein ingredient, Pekilo mycoprotein.