Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland (BII) has netted €5 million (US$5.9 million) in new investment. The biotech company is supplying extracts of proteins, oils and calcium from fish for food and animal feed applications.
The new capital pushes up total funding to €30 million (US$35.3 million), propelling expansion of R&D activities and production of “underutilized” seafood ingredients – which may hold further rehabilitative potential as a functional food for treating sarcopenia and boosting satiety. Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, CEO Jason Whooley details a wealth of opportunity in the unchartered waters of oceanic protein solutions.
“Marine proteins are a small but growing segment of the market. Traditionally, these proteins have been used in the pet food and aquaculture sector and there is most familiarity with hydrolysates in these areas. However, as demand grows for alternative proteins, we’re seeing increasing interest from consumer markets,” Whooley explains.
BII’s 90 percent protein hydrolysate is marketed as “virtually fat-free” and as a viable replacement for monosodium glutamate (MSG) or yeast extract. “Soluble Fish Protein Hydrolysate (SPH90) has more glutamic acid than yeast extract,” Whooley says.
Alternatives to conventional protein sources are seizing the spotlight amid a shift away from conventional farming for health and environmental reasons.“The salt of glutamic acid is responsible for the umami taste and the taste enhancement. In addition, it is clean label and doesn’t contain any GMO ingredients, synthetic additives or chemical substances.”
BII’s high-protein SPH90, sourced from blue whiting (BW) fish is a free-flowing soluble spray-dried powder. It is described as having a “very neutral odor and slightly off-white appearance.”
With respect to the company’s proprietary information, Whooley does not go into detail regarding the manufacturing process of BII’s novel hydrolysates. “However, we are unique in that we are producing a 90 percent protein hydrolysate, which is 100 percent soluble in water and virtually fat-free. In addition, this powder is a rich source of proteins, peptides, amino acids, nucleotides, vitamin B12 and other minerals.”
The raw materials for BII’s bio-refinery are wild-caught and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) approved, caught “just hours” from the Irish coast. The company’s main shareholders are fishermen and fishing companies who supply the majority of the fish being supplied to the BII factory. This, Whooley notes, enables “full control” over the supply chain and therefore a guarantee of traceability.
Milking marine potential
The funding raised will be used to expand BII’s production volumes in its plant marine biorefinery. “In addition, we will be using the money to fund more R&D activities. At this moment, we have three clinical studies ongoing utilizing our powders for research in sarcopenia and satiety,” highlights Whooley.
“Our aim as a company is to produce functional ingredients from this underutilized raw material. Intuitively, people understand that fish consumption is a healthy alternative and we aim to demonstrate that through our extensive R&D program.”
BII’s R&D specialists have developed partnerships with EU research institutions and universities in Ireland. In one of the company’s cited studies, BW SPH was found to have a significant in vitro growth inhibitory effect on two breast cancer cell lines.
A second cited study found it significantly improved body composition and increased Cholecystokinin (CCK) and Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) blood levels (hormones connected with satiety), while also decreasing overall weight and measurements after 90 days.
BW SPH was also found to induce strong bile acid-binding capacity in digestion. This capacity is directly linked to the ingredient’s ability to inhibit bile reabsorption in the ileum of the small intestine, therefore cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. This study revealed that BW SPH is suitable as an ingredient in the formulation of cholesterol-lowering food products and supplements.
Alternative proteins surge
Consumer interest in alternative proteins continues to drive players in this space toward exploring new solutions. Debuting at the 50th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting was Tyson Foods’ Coalition for Global Protein, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance the future of alternative protein sources.
In other innovative moves, Solar Foods, a producer of protein “made from thin air” recently released an online interactive map, which enables viewers to see the best locations for future protein production on Earth.
FoodIngredientsFirst continues to spotlight a plethora of emergent protein sources, including sustainable bug-based ingredients produced at the world’s largest insect protein factory, cell-based seafood, slaughter-free meat grown in space and microalgae for meat substitutes.
By: Benjamin Ferrer
Source: Food Ingredients First
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