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Fishmeal substitute passes taste test

Sustainability Food safety & handling +3 more

Sashimi derived from yellowtail fed a diet containing a novel fishmeal replacement has passed a consumer taste test with flying colours.

The trial was conducted by KnipBio, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, along with its collaborator Kampachi Farms, and involved samples of yellowtail (Seriola rivoliana) that had been fed diets containing up to 7.5% of the microbe-derived KnipBio Meal (KBM). The trial was conducted at the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State University.

Dr Larry Feinberg, CEO of KnipBio, explained: “As we move forward in our efforts to develop KBM into a premium substitute for fishmeal, it’s vitally important that fish raised on a diet containing KnipBio Meal have the same taste and texture profile as their counterparts fed fishmeal-based diets. To ensure this is indeed the case we devised the most rigorous test we could – a side-by-side comparison of Cabo Kampachi sashimi.”

The scientists at Oregon State’s Food Innovation Center recruited more than 70 adults who regularly eat sashimi to be the subjects. A triangular test methodology was used, where each subject was given a plate containing two pieces of Cabo Kampachi sashimi from fish raised on KnipBio Meal, and a control sashimi piece that had been fed a standard diet. The testers were asked to identify which piece was different in terms of taste, colour, and texture. The results indicated that the group was statistically unable to discern any difference between the KBM-fed samples and the control fishmeal-fed sample.

Feinberg added: “With premium sashimi, there’s no hiding even small differences in taste or texture. These exciting results therefore make us confident that KBM can serve as a suitable replacement for fishmeal. Ensuring KBM-fed fish taste superb is, of course, just one of the challenges we are addressing as we continue our program to bring KnipBio Meal to market. We are advancing our process scale-up efforts, and are currently working with industrial partners to prove-out our fermentation technology at near-commercial scale. Separately, we are conducting numerous live feeding experiments to demonstrate a diet containing KnipBio Meal has a positive effect on fish population health and mortality. The results of these experiments to date have been highly encouraging and we are expanding them to include additional species. Lastly, we are initiating efforts to receive regulatory approval of our feeds.”

KnipBio is focused on helping solve the protein needs of the world’s growing population.

Feinberg stated: “We believe aquaculture offers the best means to achieve this goal because fish are extraordinarily efficient at converting feed into protein. The aquaculture industry is expected to double to over $200 billion by 2030, when two-thirds of all fish will be farm-raised. There is a significant roadblock to achieving this – the lack of sustainable and healthy proteins and oils to feed the fish. Traditionally the source has been fishmeal made from anchovies and other wild forage fish, but their populations are already stressed from heavy fishing pressure. To overcome this bottleneck, we have pioneered a process to use microbes to convert sustainable and abundant feed stocks into high-quality and affordable fishmeal substitute.”