Nutritionists, Feed Formulators, Farmers, Chefs, Consumers and Environmentalists will find a lot of common ground in realizing how much better aquaculture can be when powered by ME-PRO!
The following FAQ and Downloads contain answers to many common questions. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for, please contact us! We’ll reply promptly and likely add your question (and our answer) here!
ME-PRO FAQ (updated 07/02/2020)
Q: What does “Microbially Enhanced” mean?
A: The term “Microbially Enhanced” describes the natural fermentation process by which Prairie AquaTech treats the non-GMO soybean meal to ensure the highest level of protein is obtained.
Our process utilizes the same basic principles as brewing beer, wine or manufacturing tofu where a microbe consumes sugars and processes proteins present during the fermentation process. As a result, various less desirable components of soy beans are significantly reduced. These include proteins and sugars that inhibit optimal nutritional utilization by fish as well as components associated with the soy allergens in humans. Thus, both protein and sugars released during this process are non-allergenic.
A natural, non-GMO and completely food-grade microbe is put to work to consume plant sugars and process soy proteins that results in the high level of digestible protein provided—70% as fed. The microbe-derived materials are widely used in multiple other familiar products such as Listerine® breath strips and pharmaceutical gel capsules.
This all-natural process was created at South Dakota State University, a premier agricultural education and research institution.
You should know that this process is the inspiration behind the ME-PRO name as it combines the initials of Microbially Enhanced with the PROtein result.
Q: Where is ME-PRO manufactured?
A: ME-PRO was developed by Prairie AquaTech at its pilot-scale AgTech Center in Brookings, SD. However, production has commenced at the company’s 30,000-ton/annum commercial scale manufacturing plant in Volga, SD.
Both facilities are registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA).
The manufacturing plant is an ultra-modern, 45,000 square foot facility. It’s capable of producing up to 30,000 tons of ME-PRO annually, pre-engineered to expand to 45,000 tons with minimal capex, and is centrally located for efficient access to road, rail and ports for global distribution.
The AgTech Center is Prairie AquaTech’s research and development facility. This facility serves as the focal point for our continually ongoing product development activities and includes commercial extrusion feed manufacturing with state-of-the-art experimental fish rearing facilities. This unique combination of facilities has been paramount to the successful development of ME-PRO.
Q: Why is ME-PRO important?
A: Two words: sustainability and nutritional quality. In the big picture, the world’s demand for protein used in human and animal diets is dramatically expanding. Aquaculture is a key sector of agribusiness that is anticipated to fill the needs of this demand. However, fish farming has been reliant on fish meals derived from oil-rich fish species that are harvested from the oceans as a major component of feed for growing farmed fish. This practice is no longer sustainable and ME-PRO meets the needs of aquafeeds manufacturers in that it is made from renewable, traceable and sustainable soybean protein.
The consistent quality, protein content, and sustainability of ME-PRO sets our non-GMO ingredient apart from any other high quality protein source currently available for aqua feed, including fish meal! ME-PRO is produced to a minimum standard of 70% protein that is highly palatable and digestible by fish. Click here for a little clip of video that proves the point.
To add one more point on ME-PRO’s quality and purpose, it needs to be stated that it has been developed, tested and proven to dramatically reduce the phosphorus content of discharge water from pond-based commercial fish culture operations. As adherence to water quality standards is part of fish farming’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, ME-PRO’s positive effect on water use and its quality can’t be overstated.
Q: Is ME-PRO expensive to use in feed?
When it comes to formulation, ME-PRO is powerfully cost efficient! The high (minimum) standard of 70% combined with high digestibility mean that ME-PRO is more cost-effective than any number of other proteins, including fish meal.
An additional benefit for formulators is that ME-PRO pricing is not affected by commodity-pricing of soybeans or fish meal—standard pricing eases formulation concerns.
Q: What kind of service is provided if I request ME-PRO powered feed?
A: The scientists and nutritionists behind ME-PRO are experienced and eager to provide service in creating custom and effective formulations that are species and stage-specific. The combined number of years of experience producing aquaculture and feed are many; ME-PRO exists to solve challenges and provide exceptional value for everyone.
Q: Why are “Phytate Levels” important?
A: Phytates, or phytic acid, are a storage form of phosphorus used by plants that is nutritionally unavailable to fish and not only can have a negative impact on growth performance, nutrient, and mineral uptake of a rapidly growing fish, but also can detrimentally impact the environment. Many plant-based feed ingredient protein sources contain high levels of phytate, thus the phosphorus in these feed ingredients is essentially unavailable to the fish and thus will be excreted into rearing waters. ME-PRO, however, contains virtually no phytates, and 90% of its phosphorus is available to fish.
Q: What species is ME-PRO suitable for?
A: ME-PRO is excellent for all marine and freshwater species, at inclusion levels ranging from 15-40% of the diet. It is also being used in feed for weaned pigs.
Q: Are genetically modified organisms or plants used to produce ME-PRO?
A: No. ME-PRO is derived from a naturally occurring, organically-certified microbe, Aureobasidium pullulan, and non-genetically modified (Non-GMO) soybeans. This combination should satisfy the most demanding of seafood consumers!
Q: Where do the soybeans used in producing ME-PRO come from and how are they processed?
A: The soybeans used in producing ME-PRO are traceably sourced from U.S. based farmers in the upper-Midwest who are committed to growing non-GMO products. We have a certified grower network and work closely with those farmers on seed genetics and agronomics. We want to tell the story about ME-PRO starting from the farmer’s fields – where the ingredient comes from and how it is handled.
South Dakota Soybean Processors (SDSP) processes the soybeans through an expeller process, removing a majority of the oil from the soybean without using chemical solvents, and produces a dried, meal product that is the basis for the ME-PRO process.
Currently, Prairie AquaTech is completing a number of certifications that will demonstrate the company’s commitment to providing the most wholesome, highest-standard ingredients to aquaculture. ME-PRO, our initial product, is certified as non-GMO by The Non-GMO Project, America’s most trusted seal for non-GMO verification.
Q: Can ME-PRO be used in formulations for various stages of growth?
A: ME-PRO protein is utilized effectively at all stages, from fry to harvest-size. ME-PRO is an excellent, highly digestible protein source, not only for larval and starter feeds, but also through the juvenile and production stage of growth. Dietary inclusion of ME-PRO in starter and juvenile feeds provides a highly digestible protein source which these rapidly growing animals require for optimal production.
Q: Can ME-PRO be used in formulations for different species such as shrimp?
A: Yes. In fact, ME-PRO has shown exceptional characteristics in various palatability trials.
Q: How does ME-PRO affect the table quality of aquaculture-raised fish?
A: Feed is a significant determining factor that affects all aspects of aquacultural production, not the least, the impacts on the final product quality. Aquaculture production feeds not only have to provide the right balance of proteins, lipids, and micro-nutrients to promote optimal growth and health, but also have to produce marketable seafood that is of the highest quality. Plant-based protein sources, especially those like ME-PRO, can contribute to a higher quality product with respect to taste and texture.
Fish fed extruded pelleted feeds containing high amounts of ME-PRO (and not significant amounts of marine proteins) possess a rather “neutral” taste that is pleasing to most individuals who are consuming fish and value-added seafood manufacturers that desire consistency in their products. Inclusion of marine proteins in the diets of fish result in the “fishy” taste of fish that is derived from the accumulation of small molecules in the flesh which are organic amines (trimethylamines and others).
This accumulation is part of the natural process behind when fish consume each other and other marine source proteins in nature and marine source protein meals in aquaculture. For some palates (sushi lovers, etc.) this taste (like mackerel or bluefish fillets) is highly sought after! Other seafood consumers do not like this taste since they have been exposed to freshwater fish that do not have these amines. Therefore, they associate this taste with spoiled seafood.
Fish fed high amounts of ME-PRO (and not significant amounts of marine proteins) have much lower amines, resulting in a mild flavor that is pleasing to most individuals who are consuming fish.
Q: What are ME-PRO’s qualities for large-scale feed production?
A: ME-PRO is a fine, light colored (blond) powder, ground to a final particle size of approximately 150 microns. ME-PRO provides significant properties during the extrusion process, including many mechano-elastic properties that become apparent during feed manufacturing.
In the aquaculture industry, a simple (but highly effective) method for judging the quality of aqua feed is called, “The Bucket Test.” Peter Fritsch of Rushing Waters Hatcheries explains this process in a short video, here.
Q: How does ME-PRO arrive at the feed mill?
A: ME-PRO is shipped either FOB Brookings or Volga, SD. ME-PRO is palletized in 55lb (25 kilogram) paper sacks and 2,200lb (1000kg) “Super Sacks.”
Q: What are ME-PRO’s storage requirements?
A: As with a majority of feed ingredients, ME-PRO is stable, and when stored under reasonable environmental conditions, will maintain its nutritional qualities for a minimum of 12 months. Our 25 kg bags are lined with a 2ml water barrier and heat sealed.
Q: Are ME-PRO research personnel available for news stories or insight?
A: Of course. ME-PRO, through our parent company Prairie AquaTech, is focused on promoting the responsible, sustainable and profitable growth of the aquaculture industry. Contact Stephanie to start the conversation!
Q: Are tours of the ME-PRO production facilities available?
A: Tours for interested nutritionists, feed formulators, producers, chefs and media are available upon request. If you are interested in a tour, please contact Stephanie at Stephanie@PrairieAquaTech.com or by calling 605.692.1266.