Tree to feed project to evaluate protein in rainbow trout

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Galeanu Mihai
© GettyImages/Galeanu Mihai

Related tags paper bioethanol feed protein Rainbow trout

Swedish biotech, Cirkulär, is teaming with Sylvamo in a feed protein trial at the paper company’s mill in Nymolla, Sweden.

Partially funded by Sweden’s innovation agency, Vinnova, the ‘Tree-to-Feed’ project will begin as a pilot in September. 

The initiative is backed by Cirkulär’s proprietary technology; it is designed to ferment side-streams such as pulp by-products from the paper manufacturing process to produce a feed protein ingredient. 

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences will also conduct feeding trials to evaluate the digestibility and growth of rainbow trout fed Cirkular's protein, called Cirkulein. 

“Our purpose is to produce paper in the most responsible and sustainable ways,” said Michael Lindemann, Nymolla mill manager. “By providing our by-products as a raw material, we can reduce waste and contribute even more to the circular economy.”

If successful, the project could provide a sustainable, locally produced ingredient for the aqua feed industry while reducing the emissions and supply chain costs of producing and transporting feed, said the parties.

“This is a great opportunity to demonstrate our technology and product quality on a larger scale. We offer a sustainable feed solution, in large volumes, at a competitive price point, supporting the growing demand for aqua feed in the Nordics and globally. We are also very enthusiastic to be able to create impactful sustainable industrialization in our regional community in the Skane region and look forward to seeing what ripple effects this can have,” said Eric Oste, Cirkulär’s chief executive officer.

Fungal cell factories

“We anticipate sharing the initial project results during Q4 2023,” said Jeanna Peebo, chief strategy officer, Cirkulär.

She gave us a deeper dive in the company’s production process: “Our core technology focuses on developing optimized fungal cell factories. Our single cell protein product, Cirkulein, is generated through a highly sustainable process that utilizes industrial by-products, and it boasts attractive nutrient and energy levels, making it appealing to the aqua feed and pet food industries. We adopt an agnostic approach to the fungal species we work with, as we believe each biomass or side-stream has unique characteristics that require tailored solutions."

Cirkulär’s vision is to be a global sustainable protein manufacturer partnering with by-product providers, such as Sylvamo, she added.

“In addition to paper, our current focus includes, but is not limited to, side-streams from breweries, distilleries, and bioethanol production.”

Commercial viabilty 

Asked how the partners can ensure the commercial viability of their approach when it comes to supplying the feed sector given the low margins in aqua feed and notable failures relative to other alt protein providers working in this space, Peebo told us:  

“While we acknowledge the challenges faced by other alternative protein providers in offering competitive solutions to traditional protein feed ingredients, Cirkulär is confident that we have successfully developed a cost-effective technology. This will enable us to provide a compelling value proposition to our feed customers."

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