Press release: Sustainable and organic protein passes pig test
The microbial Uniprotein® product from Unibio has been tested as feed for piglets at TestPig, the Danish Pig Advisory Center in Herning, in cooperation with Aarhus University and Danish Agro, and the conclusion is clear: Uniprotein® product passes without any problem the test as partial replacement of potato protein and prime fishmeal. Uniprotein® product is organic and highly sustainable compared with similar products. It is (bio)-industrially produced through a fermentation process with methane as feedstock, thus requiring no agricultural land and not contributing to overfishing and fish stock depletion.
Through cooperation with Aarhus University and Danish Agro, Unibio’s Uniprotein® product has been tested as a partial replacement of high-quality products such as potato protein and prime fishmeal as part of the GUDP-supported project SUPIAF (Sustainable Protein Ingredient for Animal Feed). The conclusion is clear: when Uniprotein® product replaced the other high-quality products by up to 10% (the highest level tested), daily growth and feed efficiency of the tested piglets performed in line with daily growth and feed efficiency of piglets fed solely with potato protein and prime fishmeal. Over a period of 43 days the weight gain of the piglets was 17. 09 kg in the control group and (0% Uniprotein® product) and 17.8 kg in the group fed 6% Uniprotein® product showing no a significant difference.
“The test showed encouraging results, as Uniprotein® product may prove a possible alternative to conventional high-quality protein ingredients. The growth of the piglets did not differ from that of the control group, which was fed solely conventional high-quality protein products. To become a serious and realistic alternative, the Uniprotein® product must, of course, be reasonably priced relative to the other high-quality protein products”, Professor Mette Olaf Nielsen, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, explains.
No need for medical zinc oxide
The tests were performed with feed mixtures not supplemented with medical zinc oxide, and it did not appear that feeding with Uniprotein® product had a negative impact on the gut health of the piglets. “We are facing the EU’s impending ban on the use of medical zinc oxide in piglet feed from 2022. We are therefore happy to demonstrate through these tests that in Danish Agro we already have solutions to feed piglets without medical zinc oxide. It is, however, important to be aware that the feed is only part of the solution; the phasing out of zinc oxide requires good all-round piglet management. Moreover, the Uniprotein® product is an organic and highly sustainable protein compared with other high-quality proteins. Parameters that we experience and that we expect will be in far greater demand, and even at a competitive price. We are thus happy to be able to offer Uniprotein® product from Unibio in our feed mixtures in the long term”, Arne Ringsing, Product Manager at Danish Agro, states.
Less environmental impact with sustainable Uniprotein® product
Compared to the production of other protein ingredients the environmental footprint of the production of Uniprotein® product is very limited as it is produced by fermentation of a microbial culture using methane as feedstock. The production of Uniprotein® product thus requires limited land compared to the cultivation of plant-based protein. The production of 1 tonne of potato protein requires, for instance, 344 m2 of land.
In addition, no soil depletion results from the production of Uniprotein® product, and the production leaves a very small environmental footprint.
The production of 300-400 kg of high-quality fishmeal requires 1 tonne of fish, whereas the production of Uniprotein® product does not require any of the limited resources and minerals of planet Earth.
The production of Uniprotein® product is based on a very sustainable technology – the U-Loop® fermentor, which converts methane gas to microbial biomass with a very high protein content – that is, above 70%. The Danish biotech company Unibio has patented the technology. “We experience strong global demand for sustainable protein – and we are thus very happy that the testing shows that Uniprotein® product can easily replace conventional high-quality protein while maintaining status quo in terms of growth and gut health in piglets. Due to the growing world population, we see an increasing demand for protein – particularly for sustainable protein. The world increasingly demands sustainable alternatives to conventional products”, Ina Karlshøj Julegaard, Technical Product Manager for Uniprotein® product, points out.
The Uniprotein® product used at the tests has been produced at Unibio’s test facilities in Kalundborg. So far, an industrial-scale plant has been built in Russia, and negotiations are currently ongoing with technology customers in the Middle and the Far East on the construction of further production facilities.
The feeding trial included 3,360 piglets with 840 piglets at four different inclusion levels (0%, 3%, 6% and 10% Uniprotein® product), where Uniprotein® product replaced fishmeal and part of the potato protein in Danish Agro’s starter feed for piglets without zinc oxide. The feeding trial was conducted over 43 days for each piglet, where the piglet’s diet included Uniprotein® product in the first 15 days, and then 28 days where the piglet was gradually fed conventional feed – Danish Agro’s piglet feed.
The trial was carried out with newly weaned piglets over seven consecutive weeks. 480 piglets were recruited for the trial after weaning and were then randomly allocated to eight double pens with around 60 piglets per double pen (around 30 piglets per pen). All the piglets in a double pen were allocated the same treatment, resulting in two replicates/repeats per treatment per week and a total of 14 replicates/repeats per treatment, amounting to a total of 840 piglets per treatment.
The results of the feeding trial showed that Uniprotein® product ensures the same growth and health performance of piglets as the high-quality protein sources fishmeal and potato protein. It is thus not possible to measure significant differences between the groups in terms of daily growth or feed conversion. Nevertheless, the group allocated to the diet with 6% inclusion of Uniprotein® product recorded a significantly improved feed intake (*) compared with the control group. In none of the groups was gut health issues observed.
|Treatment||Average start weight||Feed intake
|Growth kg/piglet||Daily growth kg/piglet/day||Daily feed intake kg/piglet/day||FCR
Kg feed/kg growth
Description of the GUDP-supported project SUPIAF
The GUDP (Green Development and Demonstration Programme) supports green innovation projects in the Danish food sector. The main purpose of the SUPIAF project (Sustainable protein ingredient for animal feed) is to validate and optimize the nutritional and functional properties of Unibio’s Uniprotein® product when used as a protein ingredient in feed for piglets and salmonids. The research project has been granted EUR 1.3m by the GUDP and will run in 2019-2022. In addition to Unibio, the project involves the participation of Danish Agro, Department of Animal Science at Aarhus University, DTU Aqua and Biomar.
The Danish Agro group consists of a number of agro-industrial companies in Denmark and abroad. They all have a common objective: to contribute to value-adding solutions within their individual areas in close cooperation with their customers. The group mainly operates within the sale of feedstuff mixes, ingredients and vitamin mixes, fertilizer, crop protection, seed and energy as well as within the purchase of crops from farmers. The group is also the distributor of a number of strong farm machinery brands and runs an extensive chain of hobby and leisure retail outlets. Danish Agro group has around 5,000 employees, and the turnover was in 2020 approx. EUR 5.3 bn.
Unibio, an industrial biotech company headquartered in Denmark, has developed a fermentation method for producing sustainable organic and highly concentrated protein. The company is a world leader in its field, and its technologies allow the full decoupling of protein production from farming and fishing for the benefit of essential ecosystems, e.g. the world’s oceans and rainforests. The sustainable organic protein will be sold through a network of distributors as well as directly to large key accounts around the world. Unibio is headquartered in Roskilde and has production and test facilities in Kalundborg. Unibio is owned by the founding Busch-Larsen family, a group of private investors and Mitsubishi Corporation.
Uniprotein® product is a high-value, organic and sustainable protein, and it can easily replace other high-value proteins such as super-prime fishmeal and highly concentrated soy products. The sustainability advantages of using Uniprotein® product in a feed mix instead of conventional protein are self-evident – no
fish stock depletion, no overfishing of oceans, no cutting down of rainforests, and a viable and economic use of methane.
The production of Uniprotein® product is based on fermentation of a microbial culture using methane or biomethane as feedstock, which lowers the CO2 emissions compared to other utilization areas of the methane, and the end-product is both organic and highly sustainable. Unibio has developed and patented the production method – a fermentation process accomplished by a U-Loop® fermentor.
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