INTERVIEW: Parabel Aims to Provide Markets with a New Protein
Source: Feedinfo News Service
24 March 2014 - Parabel Ltd, a global provider of micro-crop solutions for sustainable feed and food production, has made its Abu Dhabi office the corporate hub for its growing international activities, and is gearing to cater for the growing demand for a new vegetable protein.
The company is making significant progress in the commercialization of Lemna protein concentrate (LPC) and Lemna Meal (LM), products it intends to provide as alternative protein and fibre sources in the UAE and in other select regions of the world.
LPC is a high nutrient density product aimed at the monogastric, young animal, pet and aqua sectors. The amino acid profile of LPC is comparable to the highest quality commercial feedstuffs including fishmeal, soya, whey and pea proteins. The LM product, meanwhile, is a lower density high fiber product more suited to the ruminant and equine sectors.
Parabel, which is currently going through a transition from an R&D focus to commercialization of its systems, provided Feedinfo News Service with an overview of its technology and strategy moving forward.
Parabel claims it transforms locally-available micro-crops into high-value products in a predictable and profitable manner. The system consists of intellectual property that is a combination of patented systems, processes and configurations, trademarks, proprietary software and trade secrets. Its technology provides controlled conditions for Lemna to be grown and harvested providing consistent, nutritious and safe end products.
Parabel's systems cultivate, harvest and process Lemna in a cost effective and environmentally friendly way. And its technology provides a closed system whereby water is recycled and there is no leakage into nearby areas.
"Water conservation is important in many parts of the world and is part of our sustainable approach. The UAE is a good example where the government took a decision to stop growing alfalfa and other animal feed grass in 2006 to conserve water reserves. The UAE needs a sustainable approach to feed and food farming, as do other areas of the world", commented Marcus Kenny, Vice-President of Product Development for Parabel.
"Our systems are orientated in the tropical and developing nations where there is high demand for our products; however we see the end products being applicable globally", said Kenny. "The production capacities differ depending on the growth rate of Lemna and size of the facility, systems range from 300 – 1,200 kg/hour. Facilities are designed to ensure consistent output while our proprietary nutrient package ensures growth is optimized. The system is flexible to meet end user needs".
The commercialization process is backed up by R&D work demonstrating that Lemna products contribute to the nutritional value of foods and feeds.
For instance, a 2010 University of Idaho study on the use of Parabel protein concentrate in aqua species demonstrated that LPC is a useful complement, or replacement, of conventional protein sources in aqua diets.
"This study was important but there are other studies evaluating LPC and LM in other species with similar outcomes, we see application of our products in many different markets", commented Kenny.
In 2012, the company changed its name from PetroAlgae to Parabel. Asked what the rationale was behind the name change, Kenny said that, in the past few years, the company has significantly accelerated its commercialization as a result of key strategy changes. The name change was therefore important to reflect these new changes.
Parabel has therefore gone from R&D to a fully commercial global company in a short space of time to keep up with the market demand for new vegetable protein.
Today, Parabel is finalizing the drawings for its current customers and has an order book of nearly USD 4 billion, which will keep the firm busy for the next few years.
Parabel has a presence in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Uganda, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador. It has support offices in Florida, Abu Dhabi and Beijing allowing the company to operate in these various time zones. These offices are expected to fully support the company's growing commercial activities moving forward.
The company's products have also undergone the GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) self-affirmation process in the United States, which means the products can be introduced to the human foods market. Finally, LPC is currently being tested across a range of applications as a novel source of protein.
In conclusion, Kenny pointed out that the rising world population, rapid economic growth in developing countries, and the necessity for sustainable food security have created multiple global challenges. Higher GDP per capita has meant that there's increasing demand for meat and dairy products. The world is moving from a diet rich in carbohydrates to one with higher protein content.
"Parabel is well positioned to meet part of this demand", he said.
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