French starch and animal feed maker Roquette will soon be testing chicken feed that contains a fermentation-based ingredient that could do away with a chemical production process that uses a derivative of crude oil.
Under an exclusive licencing deal in 2005 with Metabolix Explorer (METEX.PA), Roquette will use a feed including an 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 Metabolix Explorer 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 in a statement on Wednesday.
Methionine is an essential component of poultry and piglet feed and as an animal feed is estimated to be worth 2.2 billion euros ($3.22 billion) world-wibe this year.
Up to now amino acid is made by using propylene, which originates from crude oil.
Financial benefits for Metabolic Explorer from progress of the worldwide exclusive licencing agreement with Roquette were confidential, the company spokesman said.
Test results from Metabolix Explorer'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.
Metabolic Explorer shares closed at 6.47 euros on Tuesday.