From forest to feed: enable the wood industry to bridge the protein gap


Europe faces a major protein deficit, ranging between 80 – 70 percent in the past 40 years. This has to be covered by imports. However, as the world population grows, the demand for food will increase globally. The SYLFEED project will start to bridge this gap by upscaling a biorefinery concept that can convert woody biomass into high-value Single Cell Protein (SCP) for use as animal feed, most notably in increasing fish production.

Wood residues are abundant and highly sustainable, while SCP has an amino-acid profile close to that of fish, making them an excellent raw material in fish feed formulation. The SYLFEED project will create a demonstration plant with a capacity to process up to 15t/day of lignocellulose into SCP for use in aquaculture. This will demonstrate a synergy between forestry industry and protein fish feed market, creating new high value opportunities for the former and an alternative, sustainable, protein source for the latter.



The overall objective of the SYLFEED project is to build a demonstration plant with the capacity of treating 15 tonnes of biomass per day, i.e. up to five thousand tons of biomass per year.

It also sets technological, socio-economic and environmental objectives:

  • From a technological perspective, the project intends to reach recovery levels of sugars from biomass similar to those at the pilot scale. It will also prove the feasibility of continuous operation and integrated recycling loops in order to reuse more than 99% of phosphoric acid.
  • From a socio-economic perspective, the project aims to provide a significant return on investment from the biorefineries, to make it attractive to potential investors. It should also provide end-to-end mutual economic benefits between biomass providers, biorefineries and fish feed producers
  • From an environmental perspective, the project aims to reduce contributions to human-induced global warming compared to other protein sources, with combined lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and other contributions less than 50 percent of alternatives. It will also minimise human-induced global warming in the protein production chain, by sourcing, extracting and transporting raw materials using the most sustainable options. Finally, it will have a lower water footprint compared to other protein sources as forestry materials do not require dedicated water usage

The SYLFEED project aims to have the following impacts:

  • Increase income for farmers and breeders by exploiting unused or underused residues.
  • Allow fish farmers to access more competitive and sustainable products as price of fish meal increases.
  • Reduce water and fertilisers consumption as well as of land use in comparison with current animal feed production, particularly fish meal from other fish and plant-derived (mainly soya) sources.

Project achievements & milestones

Successful scale-up of wood-to-food technology
07 October 2020
Making protein-rich ingredients from wood sidestreams at an industrial level might soon become a reality. The SYLFEED project beneficiary, Arbiom, has successfully produced the first half a tonne of the bio-based product for feed SylPro. Read more

Demonstrating the efficacy of a protein produced from wood
08 October 2019
The BBI JU SYLFEED project achieved a new milestone, successfully demonstrating the efficacy of their novel alternative protein produced from wood. The alternative protein can be used to replace fish meal or plant-based proteins in feed for juvenile Atlantic salmon, delivering equivalent nutritional performance as conventional protein sources. Read more