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Institute for Commercialization

Red Yeast Fermentation to Produce Natural Astaxanthin and B-carotene Enriched Fish Meal

Reference Number: K 10-23

Inventors: Ananda, Nanjundaswamy; Vadlani, Praveen

Owner: Kansas State University Research Foundation


Invention Summary

Carotenoids, such as astaxanthin and beta carotene, provide numerous health benefits to animals, and since animals are incapable of producing these substances on their own, they are a vital part of many species diet. This is especially true in aquaculture, where the addition of astaxanthin to fish meal has become a critical component in imparting a desirable coloration to fish such as salmon. Although desirable, the addition of astaxanthin to fish meal is very expensive, representing up to 20 percent of the production cost of the product, while constituting less than one percent of the actual volume of the ration. As a result of this significant cost, most producers are now using a cheaper synthetic brand of astaxanthin, which is believed to be nearly 50% less effective than the natural product.

With these obstacles in mind, researchers at Kansas State University have developed a fermentation technique which provides a more cost effective method of inclusion of natural carotenoids directly into fish meal. This technique produces a ration containing a natural blend of carotenoids which exceed the recommended daily value of astaxanthin. The process is also believed to be more cost effective than blending chemically extracted astaxanthin into feed, as the significant costs associated with the chemically extracted product are removed from the cost of the feed. Additionally, astaxanthin is an FDA approved feed additive, and the natural version could potentially allow for the final food product to be labeled as "natural".


  • Lowers cost by eliminating the costs associated with chemically extracted products.
  • Natural astaxanthin is 50% more effective at providing correct pigmentation
  • Can provide for fish meal with a recommended dietary dose of astaxanthin
  • Provides other essential carotenoids within the fermentation
  • “Natural” labeling provides for premium pricing of meat product
  • Fermentation process allows for custom blending of feed additives


  • This technology can be used on various types of animal feed, not limited to fish meal
  • May be utilized to place other beneficial additives into different kinds of meal