Arbiom’s alternative protein product has “lowest impact on climate change”
Preliminary LCA data indicates sustainable benefits of wood-to-food protein ingredient
27 Feb 2020 --- Arbiom, a US-based agricultural-biotechnology company developing solutions to convert wood into feed and food, has revealed promising early results from a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study of SylPro, its latest alternative protein product. When compared to other protein sources, such as fish meal and soya protein concentrate, SylPro shows “the lowest impact on climate change, supporting its viability as a sustainable solution to the looming global protein gap,” the company highlights. Additional LCA results for SylPro will be released later this year.
In August 2019, Arbiom revealed the potential for wood to be converted into protein for human consumption. At the time, the company which uses a fermentation technique to turn wood into SylPro, said the commercialization of wood-derived protein for humans would provide manufacturers with another plant-based protein option at a time when consumers are increasingly turning towards more sustainable options.
The announcement comes at a time where climate change and feeding a growing population is in the spotlight. For example, last month, the European Parliament was presented with a plan to increase the price of meat across the EU to reflect its environmental costs, including CO2 emissions and biodiversity loss.
There is major growth in plant-based proteins driven by consumers’ concerns over the environmental impacts of animal agriculture and animal-based food. These include issues like deforestation, species extinction, habitat loss, water consumption and pollution.
The plant-based revolution is spreading quickly, yet research has previously pointed to a lack in both funding and training for growers and processors of alternative proteins around the world. Also last month, Amy Byrick, DuPont Global Leader for Food & Beverage, spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst about the “seismic shifts” occurring in the plant-based protein sphere.
The LCA study was conducted by Ostfoldforskning, a Norwegian consultancy with experience evaluating environmental performance of materials, fuels and feeds. The LCA methodology used for the study calculations was designed to focus on six particularly relevant environmental impact categories as identified in The Product Environmental Footprint Category rules (PEFCR) for “Feed for food-producing animals” (FEFAC, 2018).
“It has been our goal to develop a protein ingredient that was not only nutritional, economical and traceable, but also above all, sustainable,” says Marc Chevrel, CEO of Arbiom.
The global population will increase to more than nine billion people by 2050, according to estimates by the United Nations. At the same time, prosperity is increasing in large parts of the world, doubling the demand for food.
“The preliminary LCA results are incredibly promising in helping to validate this goal, and in supporting Arbiom’s commitment to sustainably feed the world’s growing population,” Chevrel adds.
The LCA study accounted for all unit operations in Arbiom’s production process to produce SylPro from wood biomass. These included wood sourcing from forests to a representative Arbiom commercial unit and all energy and material use in each production step, including the production of the energy and material sources themselves. The last step accounted for transportation to end use in aquafeed. Among various environmental impact indicators, climate change was scrutinized.
“We evaluated SylPro against other protein sources across multiple environmental impact categories, including its impact on climate change,” notes Dr. Andreas Brekke, Senior Research Scientist from Ostfoldforskning. “While the results are preliminary, the data thus far shows positive signs in supporting SylPro as a sustainable solution to the protein gap,” Brekke says.
The LCA was conducted as part of the SYLFEED Project, an international and multidisciplinary project of ten industry partners dedicated to scaling-up Arbiom’s Wood to Food Technology to convert wood residues into a protein-rich ingredient comprised of a microorganism for use in animal and aqua feed.
Increasingly, companies are driven by consumer expectations to invest in traceable and sustainable processes. Pegging “The Sustain Domain” as its third top trend for 2020, Innova Market Insights further indicates that 85 percent of, on average, US and UK consumers expect companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 64 percent in 2018.
Last week, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) set out a new Agriculture Innovation Agenda promising widespread, bold transformation in order to sustainably feed a ballooning population without negatively impacting the environment. The initiative addresses the challenges of future food supply in a planet-friendly way, tackling big issues like food loss, waste and propelling food innovation.
By Elizabeth Green
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