More than one third of the biomass received by the Norwegian meat industry does not end up as human food. Around 35 per cent is classified as sidestreams or by-products. In addition, the fish farming industry generates large volumes of by-products – 418.000 tons in 2018, according to SINTEF. The potential for added value creation is considerable.
During the last four years, PhD student in Foods of Norway, David Lapeña Gómez, has studied the potential of utilizing these abundant Norwegian biomasses in the production of novel, local protein sources for farm animals and farmed salmon.
─ My thesis shows that we can convert sugar from Norwegian wood and by-products from Norwegian meat and fish industries into protein-rich yeast - a viable alternative to imported feed ingredients. My study is thus linked to the development of acircular bioeconomy in Norway, Lapeña explains.
David Lapeña Gómez is defending his thesis publicly on September 13th at 12.15 pm in Festsalen, Urbygningen the 13th of September at 12.15.
Feed from animals, fish and spruce
Yeast is a microbial, high quality protein source. Production of yeast mainly requires sugar and nitrogen and has proven itself to be a potentially viable way to valorise local biomass in Norway.
In his PhD studies, Lapeña has investigated whether it is possible to produce yeast efficiently on Norwegian resources only - wood and by-products from animals and fish. By using enzymes to break down the structures in the meat, he and his co-workers produced nitrogen-rich liquids. The nitrogen was used for the fermentation of yeast, together with spruce-derived sugars produced at Borregaard using state-of-the art enzyme technology.
─ We found that these by-products can indeed be used as a nitrogen source in the production of yeast for feed, and they can be combined with spruce sugars. Our nitrogen preparations worked just as well as, or even better than, the best commercial substrates, says Lapeña.
The use of yeast to exploit by-products from the meat industry represents new opportunities of major importance, as safety regulations prohibit the direct use of such by-products in feed. And it gets even better: as well as providing protein, yeast is also linked to health benefits in salmon and farm animals.
A major step forward
The EU has approved certain yeast strains for use in feed. For his PhD degree, Lapeña evaluated four of them in order to find the optimal yeast in terms of growth rate, protein content, and the composition of amino acids and minerals. It turned out that the yeast strain most commonly used up to now in feeding trials is not necessarily the most suitable one.
The results impress Professor Vincent Eijsink, who is in charge of Foods of Norway´s research on the development of novel feeds and processing technologies.
─ Lapeña has made major progress in the selection and fermentation of yeasts for feed purposes. His work represents a major step forward in moving from raw biomass (spruce wood, protein-rich by-products) to fermentation processes that are so efficient that they may lead to commercially viable processes for yeast production, Eijsink says.
A sustainable alternative
Foods of Norway has been working with yeast as a feed resource and the development of a Norwegian protein industry since 2015. Why? Yeast is a high-quality protein source and its production does not require arable land or much fresh water. Furthermore, if we can produce yeast locally and profitably with by-products from biobased industries, such yeast would provide a sustainable alternative to today´s imported proteins.
Norilia works with valorisation of sidestreams from the meat and egg industry. The company, an industrial partner and one of several biomass providers in Foods of Norway, thinks Lapeña´s results are important.
─ The impact of this research on Norwegian food production is twofold: the potential for a new type of feed from local sources, and a new process to create added value from sidestreams from the meat industry. Both of these can contribute to more sustainable Norwegian food production, says Senior Advisor on Technical Business Development in Norilia, Marije Oostindjer.
Finding value in “plus products”
Norilia consistently refers to sidestreams from the meat and egg industry as "plus products", as they represent a potential for added value.
─ Plus products are all parts of the animal that are not eaten by Norwegian consumers. These include edible products such as organs, natural casings, tendons and bones, but also hides and skins, wool and eggshells. The most interesting products for yeast production are those that are not used for human consumption and currently do not represent a high value for us, Oostindjer explains.
In the years to come, further cost reductions through optimization and upscaling of yeast production will be at the centre of Foods of Norway´s attention. The project also seeks to document added value from this novel feed resource in terms of improved animal health, animal welfare and sustainability.
In addition to Norilia, Nortura, Borregaard and Yara were involved in the study – all industrial partners in Foods of Norway.