EP 10 Kelping the world, and making a meal of meal worms.

Have a listen to the show, but if you’re more of a reader, here's the transcript:

[00:00:00] INTRO: This is

[00:00:02] ANNA: the Pet Nutrition Show with Amanda and Dr. Anna. Welcome to the Pet Nutrition Show. I'm Dr. Anna Sutton and with my co host Amanda Falconer, we're talking nutrition, sustainable pet food and food hacks you can do at home. Now, today's episode covers both insects and algae. And if you were thinking algae was just seaweed Think again.

[00:00:25] ANNA: It's surprisingly high tech. But now it's time for Q& A.

[00:00:29] INTRO: Pet Q& A, where we answer what you're wondering about food, moods and poos.

[00:00:36] AMANDA: I heard you talk about this term the other week, Anna, but I've no idea what it means or why it might even be good. So, what are fibre bound phenolics?

[00:00:48] ANNA: Amanda, I love my founder, fibre bound phenolics.

[00:00:52] ANNA: Fibre bound phenolics are a type of phenolic compound that is structurally bound to dietary fibre. So basically, phenolic [00:01:00] compounds often act as antioxidants. These antioxidants can prevent or slow damage to cells by, caused by free radicals, which are really highly reactive molecules that are a consequence of either environmental stress or actually biological stress, actually being alive.

[00:01:17] ANNA: Really, the difference between fiber bound phenolics or fiber bound antioxidants and normal antioxidants or free phenolics, if you like, really lies in their solubility. bioavailability and the way they are actually processed in the body. So if we go a little bit into details, you'll have to bear with me here.

[00:01:37] ANNA: If we look at the solubility, the fiber bound phenolics, they're not really that soluble in water because all the little phenolic antioxidant molecules are bound into the fiber, into that matrix of the plant, whereas the free phenolics, so this is your vitamin C you might take with your Baroque in the morning.

[00:01:55] ANNA: usually soluble in water, and it makes them really easy and [00:02:00] quickly absorbed. So that brings us then to bioavailability, and you'll hear me talk a lot about bioavailability in all sorts of contexts. But fiber bound phenolics are generally actually less, a little bit less bioavailable than the free Phenolics or free antioxidants because they need to be released from the fiber matrix and that usually occurs in the colon.

[00:02:22] ANNA: Whereas your, your free phenolics or free antioxidants are absorbed directly into the upper intestine and utilized by the body much, much faster. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, mind, so in terms of digestion and absorption, well the fiber bound phenolics pass through your stomach and the upper intestine and they're only released and absorbed in the colon, which is where the dietary fiber is fermented by the microbiota, and this is where their power lies, and it's probably why things like the Mediterranean diet are associated with reduced colon cancer risk.

[00:02:59] ANNA: In terms [00:03:00] of effects on the body, Fiber bound ones tend to exert their benefits in the colon, whereas the free phenolics exert their antioxidant effects throughout the, the body. So, in turn, in summary, both of these are antioxidants, where they differ is in how they release and where they release. And both types of antioxidants are really important and can contribute to the overall antioxidant capacity of a diet, which as we learned from last episode, we can measure using the ORAC method.

[00:03:34] AMANDA: That's excellent. I love that. But I'm just wondering, given that we did talk about the ORAC score for lycophyber, so And we, and we learnt how lycofibre is also a prebiotic source of fermentable fibre. So, does that mean that its antioxidants are likely to be the fibre bound type?

[00:03:56] ANNA: Yes, the fibre bound type most likely, although there's [00:04:00] probably still a portion of free antioxidants in there as well.

[00:04:03] AMANDA: Our guest has been described as a creative scientist. And it is true that he does have a PhD in food science, but he is also the Managing Director of kelp company Oceanium and spent the decade before that at insect pioneers Yinsect. Benjamin Armenjon, welcome.

[00:04:22] BENJAMIN: Thank you very much. I'm very, very pleased to be here with you today.

[00:04:25] AMANDA: Excellent. So let's talk insects first, and then we'll come back to your role, Kelping the World. And if you thought that was a pun of mine, actually it belongs to the company. So over the last few weeks, we've been talking about black soldier fly larvae, but Insect, you were at the helm of a company with the world's largest vertical farm for mealworms.

[00:04:47] AMANDA: So what's great about mealworms?

[00:04:51] BENJAMIN: Well, it's it's like any animal in the world. Basically, there is a category which is insect, but [00:05:00] within that category of insect, it's like an animal, you have different species. So black soda fly is one, mealworm is one, crickets, are worn as well, so mainly the black millworm.

[00:05:12] BENJAMIN: Both have pros and cons, depends what you want to achieve. So for example, the black swaddlefly has a very very short life cycle, so it's growing very very fast on a lot of different raw material. The cons is that the raw material must be kind of liquid, uh, as they cannot grind their substrate, they have to digest it or you bring it as a, as a liquid.

[00:05:37] BENJAMIN: Uh, the mealworm, it's has a longer life cycle. It's more or less three, three, four months to grow. It grows mainly on dry raw material because they have a mouth so they can grind it, et cetera. So if you take that into an industrial point of view, uh, mealworm are pretty, pretty nice because [00:06:00] of the raw material which is dry, it's super easy to, to handle.

[00:06:04] BENJAMIN: But at the end of the day, what is making the big difference between both, uh, species, it's the composition, it's the protein content. You will have, and you have much more protein in the mealworm than the black swallow fly, and you will have much less ashes, uh, in the mealworm than the black swallow fly.

[00:06:23] BENJAMIN: So at the end of the day, you obtain two different products, two protein meals, which are different, and even So more complimentary when I'm saying complimentary, if you take into consideration the fat. And that's a super good example. At the end of the day, uh, if you want the perfect oil, the perfect oil will be a mix 50 50 and Milwaukee.

[00:06:46] BENJAMIN: So you see, it's two different things, two different products, but can be complementary as well. And the use is not really the same at the end of the day. So it will depend as well on the formulation of the final [00:07:00] pet food or feed, etc. One could be good for certain formulations, and the other one will be better for other formulations.

[00:07:10] BENJAMIN: We have the pros and the cons, and everything is possible. positive and exist at the day. So tomorrow you won't see one species and only one species, it will be a mix of everything.

[00:07:22] AMANDA: So I'm the non nutritionist in this trio or the non scientist in this trio. Uh, and so Anna leap in at any time, but would I be right in thinking that, so the proportion of protein in the mealworm is greater than that in the black soldier fly larvae.

[00:07:38] AMANDA: When people talk about black soldier fly larvae, they often talk about the sort of completeness of the mealworm. No acid profile. If we were looking at amino acids in Mealworm, how do they compare? I, I, I totally get your perspective that they're different horses for courses, if you like, so they're not in competition, but how do they stack up from an amino acid perspective?

[00:07:58] BENJAMIN: No, they, they're comparing [00:08:00] the same. In term of amino acid and pure amino acid, they, they, they really compare the same. So basically you have methin, you have the 2022 essential amino acids in both species, and that's good at the end of the day. The big difference is, as I said, in the ASEs content and the protein content, which can limit the incorporation level in the pet.

[00:08:24] BENJAMIN: So for example, with the Milwan protein, as you have very, very low ashes content, it's around 2 3 percent on dry matter, you can use the protein up to 30, even 35 percent of incorporation. While with the Black Solar Fly, as you have a higher ashes content, you will limit the incorporation rate at 15%.

[00:08:47] BENJAMIN: Maximum to 20 percent that's the biggest difference. So it's not entering in the same category of, uh, of pet food, uh, or formulation.

[00:08:57] ANNA: So Amanda, by ASH, we're mainly talking [00:09:00] about calcium and phosphorus. And when we balance diets, we have to take really good care of the calcium and phosphorus levels, not only how much of each are in there, but also the relationship between one and another.

[00:09:12] ANNA: And that is absolutely is an important thing. limitation in black soldier fly. They tend to be really quite high in calcium and quite low in phosphorus. So a mealworm, which is lower in ash and a different calcium phosphorus ratio, it's really useful.

[00:09:25] AMANDA: Now, I don't know what you imagine when you think insect farm, but I certainly wasn't thinking patents, advanced robotics, computer, a vision, and AI.

[00:09:35] AMANDA: But Yinsector has over 3, 000 380 patents covering its process and products. So I'm just wondering if you can share a little bit about what makes their approach so cutting edge.

[00:09:46] BENJAMIN: Well, the idea is, uh, here it's, it's an old and new industry. When I'm seeing it's an old industry, it's animal farming. Okay. So the principles are exactly the same extra.

[00:09:56] BENJAMIN: It's a new industry because everything is integrated. [00:10:00] under one roof, one plant. So basically the, the plant that insect is, uh, is running is doing everything from the rearing of the insect, the hatching of the insect, the slaughtering, of course, of the insect, then the transformation and All of that under one roof, so it is complex because there is only one actor controlling everything and you cannot do it by hand.

[00:10:25] BENJAMIN: Uh, you cannot do it with an Excel file, so you need to provide a lot of automation. And when you provide a lot of automation, basically this is proprietary. So all the processes, uh, which has been developed around the welfare of the insect, it's really welfare to make them grow in the best condition, etc, etc.

[00:10:45] BENJAMIN: It's really, um, belonging to the, to the player and the actor. So that's why everything is, uh, is protected. Then as well, uh, We are in the 21st century, so today the industries are developing [00:11:00] extremely fast. What was developing in the past in 10 years, 20 years, et cetera, now need to be developed in five years, six years, mainly because of investments, mainly because of this kind of thing.

[00:11:13] BENJAMIN: So you need to protect yourself, uh, because it's super competitive.

[00:11:18] AMANDA: Now we, we talked a little bit about. the ash content and the different profile of fatty acids. And that obviously has relevance for the kind of formulations that people like Anna is working on for pet food. But I also read that the insect mealworm products have 86 percent peptic digestibility.

[00:11:37] AMANDA: So what does that actually mean? And why is it good?

[00:11:41] BENJAMIN: Well, it means that you can digest the protein super, super easily. So you can incorporate it to your body in a very, very lean and nonergic way. non hergenetic, um, demands. So the more the protein is digestible, the more you will absorb and you will build your own [00:12:00] muscles, uh, et cetera.

[00:12:01] BENJAMIN: So that's why it's, uh, it's pretty important.

[00:12:04] AMANDA: And there are lots of great reasons to include mealworms from a sustainability perspective, and we could talk in great detail about that, but I'm very conscious that insects, Well, your previous life and that now you're in the world of kelp. So let's talk more about that.

[00:12:21] AMANDA: Oceanium was founded in 2018 and its goal is to be the world's leading processor of sustainably farmed seaweed. Now, can you share a little bit? about where they're up to in relation to their commercialization. It's a

[00:12:35] BENJAMIN: little bit like the, the insect. It's a new and old industry. So the kelp industry exists for decades and even centuries now, it's well eaten in Japan.

[00:12:46] BENJAMIN: There is a huge cultivation of farm seaweed in China, et cetera. So it exists. Problem with this industry, and I'm sorry about the word problem, but the limitation today to the [00:13:00] growth of this industry, it's the extraction. and the application and the cells. Uh, so today it's limited to three ingredients. So mainly alginate or this kind of things, but not a lot of attention has been given to high value products.

[00:13:17] BENJAMIN: So Oceanium, is specialized on that. We are not farming kelp. We have a network of farmers where we are purchasing the kelp and we are specialized in the transformation and extraction of the most added value compound from the kelp. So, for example, we are producing today some Health benefit extract from algae, mainly based on the Fukui Dan, which has a lot of positive application from cosmetics.

[00:13:47] BENJAMIN: We did publish a result, a study that we have done with a really good cosmetic application by Reducing the redness on the skin when using the [00:14:00] Fukui Dan. We always, we have as well some evidence and very good one on the gut health benefits of this molecule. So this is all the things that we are doing by doing that and selling the product on the market.

[00:14:15] BENJAMIN: We are creating attraction on the industry. So it means that. More and more people will come and will farm the, the kelp. So you see it's coming from the, the market. It's going to the farmers and we are increasing the kelp production and, uh, the benefits of the kelp. So the benefits of the kelp is of course the carbon.

[00:14:36] BENJAMIN: It's of course the nitrogen and phosphorus absorption in the, in the ocean. It's no land issues at the end of the day to grow it, no water. Use no fresh water to, to be used. So it's extremely a sustainable product.

[00:14:52] AMANDA: What is the difference though between sustainably farming seaweed and not sustainably doing

[00:14:58] BENJAMIN: it?

[00:14:59] BENJAMIN: It's a question of [00:15:00] scale. If you are farming the, the kelp, you are in control of the biomass that you are farming and the volumes that you are, you are farming. So this is, The will of the industry. If you are just taking the kelp in the ocean, you are not in control. So if your volumes are becoming very, very big, you can be harmful at the end of the day.

[00:15:22] BENJAMIN: Both are good in the philosophy of what we are doing. It's really a question of, of, of scale. If you want to have an impact, you have to produce at large scale and you have to do it in, in control, uh, in order to not harm the biodiversity and even help it. Do

[00:15:39] ANNA: you have to do anything else to the kelp, Benjamin?

[00:15:42] ANNA: Do you have to, when you farm kelp, do you have to feed it or, or do you just?

[00:15:47] BENJAMIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There is, there is a real industry. It's as well, it's like the insect. You people have actuaries, so they're hatch the kelp. The kelp. Then after the Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then after [00:16:00] they're cultivating it in the, in the sea, et cetera.

[00:16:02] BENJAMIN: So it's really the, like any, uh, over, uh, industry.

[00:16:07] AMANDA: And so the focus that Oceanium has, I've read that it has their biorefinery technology, which is based on green chemistry principles, and this is presumably part of this value adding that you were talking about before, but is it also a bit. Like cannabinoids, for example, where you might go back to the growers and say, if you did X and Y in the growing of the seaweed, well then we're going to have more of these beneficial nutrients, which then I can do ABC with.

[00:16:41] AMANDA: Is it sort of that kind of back and forth sort of situation?

[00:16:44] BENJAMIN: Exactly, exactly. And everything is coming from the market, the end user. We know that we have a good traction on fecoidin. We know which kind of kelp can bring the fecoidin. And our partner knows the best way to grow the kelp to have that molecule, [00:17:00] for example.

[00:17:00] BENJAMIN: So it's always back and forth. And the relationship that we have today with, uh, with our partner, it's not a purchase buyer. relationship, it's more helping, uh, each other. So basically, and every, it's a, it's a win win, uh, relationship, of course. We are depending on the supplier, they are depending on us to, to grow.

[00:17:21] BENJAMIN: So we are sharing a maximum of information with, with them to ensure first that we have the added value product, uh, product available, but as well in the quality. What you are doing at the beginning of the chain, this is what you will have. At the end, uh, of the product. So we are setting up today that full value chain across the industry to make sure that the product will be 100 percent safe, 100 percent good, and not, um, full at all on the environment.

[00:17:51] AMANDA: And you mentioned a product or products that you already have that are going into the cosmetic industry. But what about pet food?

[00:17:58] BENJAMIN: Well, pet food as well, you [00:18:00] know, um, basically when you have some beneficial effect on human, you can find it on some species and animal, especially on the, on the pet food. So as well, we are, we are introducing product to the pet food.

[00:18:11] BENJAMIN: So it's mainly, um, I don't know what to call that. Um, pretty new in the, in the business still, it's been one month that I joined Oceanium. We have a kind of, let's say, superfood for the pet food. So it's basically a mix of fibers, of protein and Fucoidan. So you can tackle a lot of benefits here. First one is pure technology one, we have a superfiber, so that's really a food for the digestion and for the formulation of the pet food.

[00:18:42] BENJAMIN: Then as well on the fucoidan of molecule we have health effect and as well all the benefits on the joint, it has been demonstrated in the past. So here it's more about the wealth. Welfare and the health of the pet food that we can [00:19:00] do and bring something. Because that is really important in my career when we are talking about sustainability, etc.

[00:19:06] BENJAMIN: And looping back to the insect. Because we hear a lot of times the insect are the solution or the kelp is the solution for brighter future. This is not true. Everything is a part of the solution. So when I'm speaking about the kelp right now on the health benefits, that it's 100 percent complementary in the formulation with insect protein.

[00:19:30] BENJAMIN: We are not on the protein, insects are on the protein. We are on the side health effect, et cetera. So you see the future, in fact, it's not one product. Which will become mainstream things and, uh, and bring all the benefits extra. It's a mix of everything. And it's very important when we are talking about ecosystems.

[00:19:51] BENJAMIN: If one product is becoming the big thing, it will arm the ecosystem. To grow in a sustainable way, you need to have [00:20:00] a lot of solutions for a lot of different problems in the, in the recipes.

[00:20:05] AMANDA: Well you mentioned your career, so that leads me to ask a question that I was going to finish with actually, and it's a bit of a personal one.

[00:20:12] AMANDA: So I am interested to know what might have driven your career choices here, so Insect and then Oceanium. What appealed to you about those companies? Was it just like a good job or is there something else behind that for you?

[00:20:26] BENJAMIN: There are a lot of good jobs in the world, so, and something which is not on my CV, I'm a trained carpenter, so I could

[00:20:35] AMANDA: do it as well.

[00:20:38] AMANDA: You're right, I didn't find that on LinkedIn.

[00:20:41] BENJAMIN: No, no, there is two aspects in my career and the development is the sustainability, of course, and I think it's important today that You cannot think about your career only about money and your position or C level position and whatever. It's really what you are doing for the, for [00:21:00] tomorrow's, um, so that is very important.

[00:21:03] BENJAMIN: And so one thing which is pretty important to me, it's, um, The growing phase, this is what I like. Uh, I like company which are starting something, willing to take risk, willing to, to, to go on the market and push something new and, and bring to new things, new industry and new way of, uh, of, uh, of being, uh, uh, at the end.

[00:21:26] BENJAMIN: So that's why the insect industry was, uh, was a great fit for me, uh, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. When I joined, then we arrived at that phase where today the, the industry is pretty mature where I don't have any more added value at the end. So that's why I was looking for a new venture and I found that company Oceanium.

[00:21:47] BENJAMIN: I found it super interesting and it was, um, yeah, starting from the, from the scratch, not really from the scratch, but really going on that growing phase where everything has to be, has to be built.

[00:21:59] AMANDA: Excellent. [00:22:00] Thank you very much for joining us. We really, really appreciate it.

[00:22:02] BENJAMIN: You're welcome.

[00:22:03] AMANDA: And I really look forward to seeing what Oceanium is going to do.

[00:22:07] AMANDA: And of course, given, you know, our pet food orientation, look forward to seeing the products that get released for that. Understanding of course, that they're part of the ecosystem.

[00:22:16] BENJAMIN: Yes. That's really important to me. Nothing will be the solution. Everything will be a part of the solution. That's really a big message.

[00:22:27] AMANDA: Anna, this week's food hack is actually inspired by your dinner.

[00:22:33] ANNA: It's time for Home Food Hacks with Dr. Anna. Ah, yes, my dinner is really simple, but I really like it. It's, uh, it's essentially prawns and green beans with turmeric. And, uh, what I do is I sort of fry them all up in a, in a, in a pan and I use coconut oil as well.

[00:22:52] ANNA: So it gives it a really nice coconut smell with the turmeric. And then you get, uh, the short chain fatty acids [00:23:00] benefit as well. And then mean medium chain fatty acids, which we talked about. My food hack is what to do with the leftover turmeric. And. Green beans and prawn heads that are left over. Because usually I make a little bit too much sometimes.

[00:23:15] ANNA: I give these to my dogs and there's some benefits here. So first of all, the prawn heads are a source of protein and omega 3s. And they're also really quite rich in choline, which is great for them. nervous system and cell membrane fluidity. However, you have to be a bit careful with the prawn heads because, well, depending on the size of prawn you get, I suppose.

[00:23:37] ANNA: Mine are really little ones, but if you're using a big prawn, you've got to chop them up because otherwise, obviously, it's a choking hazard. And then we look at the green beans as well. They're rich in vitamins A, A to C, K, as well as minerals, and they're a fantastic addition to a dog's diet. Also full of fiber, but they're usually brown.

[00:23:55] ANNA: Mostly the non fermentable type, but most dogs quite like green beans. And [00:24:00] then the turmeric just gives it that extra lift. So turmeric is rich in curcumin. That's the bioactives in there. Curcumin is a potent anti inflammatory, so it helps reduce inflammation across the body, and it gives it a really nice taste.

[00:24:15] ANNA: You just gotta watch, you don't put too much on, because if the dogs get a truckload of turmeric, then they're Their, their lips tend to go a bit orange. And all the hair around their mouth. If you've got a, uh, if you've got a creamy coloured dog. Does not a problem with my black lab.

[00:24:31] AMANDA: No, exactly. Well, that is the most gourmet food hack I've ever heard.

[00:24:34] ANNA: Oh, and don't forget the MCTs as well from the coconut. Excellent.

[00:24:40] AMANDA: Thanks very much, Anna. And thank you for listening to the Pet Nutrition Show. We really hope you've enjoyed this week's episode. We certainly did. And if you'd like to ask us a question or just follow us along, do that on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

[00:24:54] AMANDA: YouTube, and we'll see you for our next episode. Catch you then.

[00:24:59] INTRO: [00:25:00] The Pet Nutrition Show is proudly presented by Planet A Pet Food, bringing dogs a flexitarian diet that's good for them and the planet.

Join us in future episodes of the Pet Nutrition Show as we dig deeper into topics like the ideal protein content for pets, the importance of gut health, and the role of pet food in waste management. Let's create a sustainable and healthy future for our pets and the environment.

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