18 June 2019- “If there’s savings to be made, with a product which is at least 70% protein, with a good amino acid profile, I don’t think there’s a farmer that wouldn’t want it!”

Existing feed protein solutions almost always involve compromise. An environmental footprint that is too heavy on the land or the sea. Imperfect digestibility. Leaves a country dependent on imports to meet its feed needs. Costs are too high, or prices too volatile.

A protein avoiding all of these would almost need to be made from scratch. Singapore-based Kinnva believes that it has the recipe to do just that.

As explained by Kinnva’s founder, Brian Reddy, Kinnva’s product KinnFeed™ is a nutrient-dense bacterial biomass (around 70% crude protein levels), with an amino acid profile very similar to fishmeal. It could be used in the diets of many different monogastrics, from aquatic species to poultry and swine—even pets, he adds.

Of course, the single cell protein concept is not entirely new. As Mr. Reddy admits, the company is building on decades of work establishing that bacterial protein was safe and nutritionally sound. The global challenge, he insists, was reaching a price point at which wide-enough adoption would help economies of scale to work in favor of the high-performing feed ingredient.

This presents a few unique ways for Kinnva to break new ground on this topic. For one thing, he insists, his company has a “novel process involved…our production is quite different from those used in the past. Net [cost] savings are passed onto the farmer.”

Mounika and Brian Reddy

For another, the company is focused on deploying the single cell protein in Asian markets, where it has even less of a track record than in the West. “No specific study in this part of the world has looked at SCP as an ingredient,” he states. This also means that even greater efforts will be needed to build the market. “Apart from adopting a least-cost formulated approach, the effort primarily involves creating awareness about the efficacy of the high-content protein ingredient as well as educating primary producers and feed integrators on its pro-immune benefits, in sync with natural breeding patterns,” says Mr. Reddy.

“Many of the major feed integrators are not entirely aware of the use of SCP in feed for livestock and the need to diversify current feed supply chains…the need to become more resilient to market risks and volatility in supply and demand (especially that of fishmeal) and the need to ensure sustainability in their procurement cycles”.

Mr. Reddy explains, “Kinnva’s innovative production process is resistant to the impacts of climate change and does not compete with the human food chain! Therefore, bacterial based protein such as KinnFeed™ has the potential to replace 20% of conventional crop-based animal feed protein demand by 2050 and decouple livestock from land use through innovative industrial feed production pathways. This is supported by evidence-based research conducted by Pikaar et al. 2018 1.”

Success in Asia will also demand that the product is able to offer a viable value proposition not only in pricey salmon, but also in more cost-competitive products like poultry and swine. “That’s where innovation can help to address wider challenges, that’s where the need is as well.”

Mr. Reddy suggests that part of the product’s value proposition will come not from its ability to compete simply on price, but rather, to offer price stability and allow costs to be forecasted and controlled. “There has been a push to strengthen supply chains, with procurement side of things clearly focused on enabling sustainable supply chains associated with stable pricing, he notes. “The risk of price volatility appears to be somewhat of a concern with primary producers who are already operating under significant cost pressures in a changing global environment.…with our stable process and production horizon, we are able to give a long-term price simply tied to CPI, which is very attractive to strategic buyers.”

In the immediate future, Kinnva is launching with its bacterial based protein, KinnFeed™, made from liquid chemical feedstocks—methanol. Mr. Reddy claims this product is close to commercialization; Kinnva is ready to talk to buyers, can provide samples to them, and is in a position to scale up production to meet industrial-scale demand quite quickly. “We are very asset-light. We don’t have our own [production] facilities, so we are able to scale-up and do it at commercial scale in a relatively short period of time, subject to the market demand that exists, because the process and GTM (Go-To-Market) is our know-how.”

The company then hopes to build from this step towards scaling up its other process using gas feedstock—methane— which is currently at laboratory scale. This is further behind the liquid feedstock as it is associated with a lower yield and process efficiency, yet has a unique global advantage: methane is a greenhouse gas whose transformation into a feed protein would be environmentally valuable and a ‘win-win’ solution for many carbon-liable entities such as large scale abattoirs and biomass waste facilities.

In the meantime though, Kinnva’s efforts are focused on getting its first product, KinnFeed™, into the market. “We are in the middle of our first serious fund raising round,” reveals Mr. Reddy. Concurrently, Kinnva is running feed trials in both controlled and field settings to amass data that can be presented to potential clients (rather than tests run with clients, data from which might be proprietary and of limited use for marketing purposes). “Evidence would suggest KinnFeed™ is a higher performing, more cost-efficient product than SBM, with pro-immune benefits in monogastrics” he asserts.

Once these steps have allowed the company to secure commercial partnerships, Mr. Reddy is quite confident that the arrangements in place for the production of KinnFeed™ can be scaled up rapidly to ensure adequate industrial-scale production to meet market demand. “We want to be able to get about 100,000 tons of production capacity [that Kinnva has access to at their manufacturing partners] up and running… by the end of next year, which means commercial deployment.”

1 Pikaar I, Matassa S, Bodirsky BL, Weindl I, Humpenöder F, Rabaey K, Boon N, Bruschi M, Yuan Z, van Zanten H, Herrero M, Verstraete W, Popp A. Decoupling Livestock from Land Use through Industrial Feed Production Pathways. Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Jul 3;52(13):7351-7359. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b00216. Epub 2018 Jun 20.