ESPOO, FINLAND — A new study conducted by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has validated the nutritional use of biotech startup Enifer’s PEKILO®Aqua mycoprotein in farmed salmon. With the promising results of the study, Enifer plans to expand its PEKILO mycoprotein solution to encompass not just aquaculture, but pet food and, eventually, human consumption.

NMBU’s study was conducted by a group of researchers led by Professor Margareth Øverland. It was conducted under the Foods of Norway, which is funded by the Research Council of Norway and the NORDICFEED project under the Nordic Council of Ministers’ organization.

According to the study, juvenile salmon growing in freshwater and fed Enifer’s PEKILOAqua mycoprotein had a significant activation in immune system and grew better, as the feed was more efficiently converted in the fish, compared to standard aquafeed.

Additionally, the study found that:

  • Replacement of up to 20% of the crude protein content in aquafeed with PEKILOAqua improved the fish’s feed conversion ratio and nutrient utilization
  • Low inclusion levels (5%) of PEKILOAqua created strong T-cell and immunity responses, as well as enhanced antimicrobial activity, and additional inclusion levels of 10% to 20% demonstrated even more health responses
  • Higher antibodies were produced in the fish against the bacterial pathogen Vibrio anguillarum

“For the first time, the studies carried out at NMBU show that our PEKILOAqua mycoprotein not only provides fish with protein, but actually brings clear added benefits to fish health and growth compared to conventional proteins like soya,” said Joosu Kuivanen, chief operating officer at Enifer. “These benefits arise from the unique composition of our fungal protein. The fact that PEKILOAqua can be produced sustainably, competitively and close to the fish farmers makes it particularly attractive to industry.”

With consumers demanding more fish and fish-based ingredients, the call for more high-quality aquafeed has risen, according to data from Statista. Enifer aims to help meet this demand more sustainably. The company leverages proprietary technology to upcycle byproducts from the agriculture, food and forest industries to create its PEKILO mycoprotein. For this study in particular, Enifer used byproducts from the Norwegian forest industry.

PEKILO mycoprotein contains about 65% protein, 15% beta-glucan, 10% fats and minerals, and offers a high concentration of vitamin B, according to Enifer, offering the fish farming industry an efficient aquafeed. The mycoprotein also offers environmental benefits, with a lower carbon footprint compared to imported soybeans, and is produced without using any new agricultural land and little water, according to the company.

“The world’s protein demand is growing, and farmed fish is the most sustainable and healthy animal protein for human consumption today,” said Simo Ellilä, chief executive officer of Enifer. “By lowering the environmental impact of the supply chain of aquafeed while improving the growing conditions of fish, we can make the whole industry more sustainable. Together with our partners in academia, we continue to research the health benefits of PEKILO mycoprotein and are looking forward to bringing our solution to market from aquafeed to pet food and all the way to human consumption.”

To extend the use of PEKILO in other industries, Enifer has ongoing partnerships with Nutreco’s aquafeed division Skretting, Purina and Valio.

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