Gone are the days of traditional, animal-based proteins; today, a new wave of plant-based protein prevails. As the world’s focus on sustainability in the food industry increases, a new alternative protein source is entering the market: protein derived from wood. At Arbiom, a small agricultural business headquartered in Durham, NC, engineers have created the product SylPro, an animal feed technology that develops proteins from the enzymes in wood. “We were founded to do what nature does already and to create what society needs most in a safe, sustainable way,” says Arbiom’s Business Development Director, Emily Glenn.
Founded in 2011, Arbiom has expanded into the animal feed and aquaculture markets and is currently testing products in the pet food and meat alternative sectors. To become a leader in the transition of food production, Arbiom has formed various partnerships with companies spread across the different stages of production, such as paper manufacturers and feed producers. The company holds two offices: one in Durham and one in Paris, France, which has allowed them to increase their global network and connect with international organizations, from Icelandic researchers to the European Union.
Arbiom’s main concern is its ability to create a nutritious, widely accessible product that can be sustainably consumed as the global population continues to increase. The data-driven framework of Arbiom allows the team to analyze and compare the environmental impacts of SylPro with other protein sources from end-to-end in the production process. The wood base of SylPro’s animal feed has proven to be more nutritious for fish and weanling pigs, and it uses less water, land, and fertilizer than traditional protein sources. Arbiom’s commitment to creating a less harmful and less resource-intensive option has helped to drive the company’s development.
Arbiom is seeking to scale up out of the demonstration phase with the development of new technologies. Over the next 3-5 years the company will be looking for sites to build its first plant, as well as continuing to develop a pipeline of new products in addition to SylPro. They are excited to soon be announcing new partnerships with several companies in target markets to advance more commercial trials of different products. As Arbiom continues to expand, their mission to transform the food production system remains steadfast, providing sustainably produced food to help feed future generations.
Lauren Hall, Environmental Studies, Class of 2023, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill