US-based fats and proteins foundation offers $250,000 in research funding

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

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A feed ingredient research project is among seven proposals funded by the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation.

The Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF​) released details on grant awards for the seven new research projects last week. The projects are through the Clemson University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center, which is a partnership between the FPRF and Clemson.

The research center program accepts grant proposals that involve the rendering process or ingredients in some area, which has resulted in some novel projects, said Jessica Meisinger, director of education and communication for the FPRFs.

Projects on sustainability and plant efficiency would be ones that might not have initially been considered in research grants for the rendering industry, she told FeedNavigator. 

“The FPRF was designed because the renders saw a need for research and it wasn’t happening from other areas – rendering is almost never researched,”​ she said. “They realized they were going to have to do their own research, so they started the foundation to fund and manage the research program.”

The program’s goals include seeking ways to develop new markets and sustain current ones, said Meisinger. “The focus has shifted as the needs of the industry have,”​ she added.

“In the beginning it was a lot of nutrition research, and it still is,”​ she said. “But there is sustainability research and safety research.”

There are two funding streams for the grants – one dedicated to open submissions and the other for projects coming through Clemson, she said.

Feed and nutrition research

The most recent set of grants awarded included ones examining ways to develop new flocculants from by-products for use in wastewater treatment, an internship to evaluate commercial opportunities and technology transfer of University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center technology and ways to bio-transform meat and bone meal in to high-value astaxanthin for animal feed, said FPRF.

The flocculants project developed out of an earlier search for a natural antioxidant, and stems from a by-product created during that process, said Meisinger. “And doing that does not just apply to rendering – there’s a lot of agriculture that could use a better flocculent,” ​she added.

Some of the now completed projects that involved feed ingredients include evaluations of rendered fat​ when combined with low-fat dried distillers grains and fed to poultry, the FPRF said. Other past research topics include evaluating the use of beef tallow-based feeds​ for Atlantic salmon and hybrid striped bass in place of, or combination with, fish oil, and rendered fat use in poultry starter feeds​.

“Rendering is all about using everything,”​ said Meisinger.

Grant process and focus

The organization is always accepting new proposals, said Meisinger. But they are collected on March 15 and September 15 for review at meetings later in the spring or fall.

“We’re always watching for things that can help with product safety and reducing or eliminating salmonella and recontamination,”​ she said. “We work a lot with pet food and plant efficiency [and] reducing odor or help with waste water treatment are always very important.”

However, she said, it is important that grant proposals explain why a project is needed.

“Even if it’s a need we never thought of, that will catch everyone’s attention,” ​she said. “A lot of time if they can tell us why it helps us, as opposed to [the use] in general, how are we going to use this? And there have been some where they have demonstrated where the need is in the value of the project.”

The review committee awards about $250,000 to $300,000 at a time in grant funding, mainly in year-long grants of $35,000 to $50,000, she said. However, it occasionally funds larger projects and it does not have to fund a set amount at any time.

“We’ve always seen the grants as seed money,”​ she said. Many times researchers have been able to use the funding as part of a larger grant or to source additional funding later, she added. 

Awardees have several meetings with the FPRF in an effort to ensure that projects stay on track and on schedule, she said.

Since the work with the Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center started in 2005, the group has awarded more than $3m in grant funding, the organization said.

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