Roquette to test fermented MetEx chicken feed

French starch and animal feed maker Roquette will soon be testing chicken feed that contains a fermentation-based ingredient that could do away with crude oil derivatives.

Under an exclusive licensing deal in 2005 with Metabolic Explorer (MetEx), Roquette will use a feed including the amino acid methionine developed by the French biological chemistry company on thousands for chickens for several weeks.

At the same time, tests will start to win regulatory marketing approval for the product. A spokesman for MetEx said these tests could take at least 18 months.

“This latest stage also means we are eagerly looking forward to the start of the industrial pilot and the resulting product marketing prospects,” Roquette's vice-president for Innovation and Research Jean-Bernard Leleu, said.

Methionine is an essential component of poultry and piglet feed and as an animal feed is estimated to be worth €2.2 bln ($3.22 bln) worldwide this year.

Up to now amino acid is made by using propylene, which originates from crude oil.

Test results from MetEx's fermentation-based L-Methionine production process, using renewable raw materials, showed the feed was at least as nutritional as the feeds with petrochemical-based DL-Methionine.

MetEx is specialised in manufacturing chemical compounds using biotechnology. It developed bacteria that are able to convert renewable raw materials such as glucose, maize starch and glycerol into components that normally require crude oil.

Production costs of these technologies are around 30% lower than via the petrochemical route.

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