We caught up with Leo Gingras, CEO of the Colorado based Nutrinsic Corporation, to hear about its innovative animal nutrition product, ProFloc, which is derived by a patented process involving the leveraging of unused nutrients from food and beverage facility wastewater, and is said to contain 63% protein.
“What the manufacturers call wastewater, we term substrate, as our technology allows us to produce a high quality single cell protein from potable water containing food and beverage nutrients.
Our process is based on the fact that bacterial cells, under our environmental conditions, produce a large amount of protein with a balanced amino acid profile. In addition, they contain an array of vitamins, minerals and other nutritional components.
Other companies have been trying to capitalize on these benefits of bacteria for the animal feed industry, but we are the first to achieve it in a cost-effective way," he said.
As it is upcycling discarded product, the firm said it is developing an environmentally and economically alternative to other plant and animal sources of protein, while eliminating the need for food and beverage processors to dispose of waste: "This is a real headache for plant managers. I know first hand - I was one," said Gingras.
Protein produced through this technique is less costly than insect or algae variants, he added. "Insects need to be fed and algae needs sunlight. Bacteria does not require such inputs to propagate," said the CEO.
"Taken together, the initial theories, the product development, the adequate testing, and the alignment with the right food and beverage companies, we know we have the ability to produce a sustainable protein input for feed, of food grade quality, that enables good feed conversion and growth rates," said Gingras.
Niche livestock segments
Nutrinsic, which is backed by investors such as Artiman Ventures, is constructing its first US production facility for in Trenton, Ohio. That plant is slated to come on-line towards the back end of this year.
“At this stage, we anticipate capacity of 5,000 tons only in the initial phase but we plan to scale up to 30,000 tons output within 18 months of production getting underway,” said Gingras, who acknowledged that, with low tonnage in the start-up period, the facility will be targeting more niche livestock segments.
But the market is already expressing positive interest. “We are getting queries from sectors such as laying hen producers,” said the CEO.
Supporting feeding trials
Both in-house and third party trials using the novel protein input with several species of fish, as well as shrimp, poultry and weaning pigs, have underlined its strengths, said the developer.
A study of 10 day old broilers of equivalent weight on soymeal, fishmeal or ProFloc diets showed a 2% hike in the growth rate of the birds on the ProFloc, said Gingras.
“We are now extending our trials to evaluate its inclusion in the feed of dairy cows, laying hens and sea bream,” he said.
Test results, reports the company, also indicate protein digestibility of the product is greater than 92%.
“The production process involved in ProFloc enables the protein to be easily absorbed. A ring dryer, the method of choice in protein manufacture as it prevents scorching, is employed after the bacteria cells are harvested and de-watered. There is also a micro sterilization step involved as we want to be sure there is no bacterial residue. The end result is a stable and dry granular product,” said Gingras.
A facility in China has been operational for several months and is co-owned by Nutrinsic and other partners in a joint venture. “The JV has exclusive rights to our technology to develop the protein source for the Chinese market but not for export,” he added.
In terms of securing regulatory approval, the CEO said the procedure is relatively simple for a feed additive manufactured in this manner:
“We will seek state by state approval in the US but will also ask for a letter of no objection from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for additional assurance for our customer base. We don’t anticipate any hurdles in this regard given the quality of the protein and its production process.”