Follow our “Shrimp-based Functional Peptides” Series here:

Part 1: Peptides – The missing piece of the protein puzzle
Part 2: Superior digestibility of Shrimp-based Functional Peptides
Part 3: Shrimp-based Functional Peptides as novel & effective palatants
Part 4: Bioactivity of Shrimp-based Functional Peptides
Part 5: VNF’s holistic solutions for the protein market

Asia, as a large animal husbandry area, faces protein supply shortages and is thus heavily dependent on feed imports. In 2020, Vietnam was reported to import 7.4M tons of protein ingredients, equivalent to $2.5B [1]. Meanwhile, crude protein – currently holding the largest share of the protein market – has quite low digestibility, leading to wasted resources, decreased animal health, and environmental pollution.

Locally produced ‘Shrimp-based Functional Peptides’ with high digestibility are the solution to optimize the protein usage and reduce costly and inefficient imports. 

As outlined in the previous article, only Di/Tri-peptides and amino acids (AAs) are absorbed into the enterocytes during protein breakdown and absorption processes. To provide the same amount of AAs, a product rich in low molecular weight peptides and AAs will be more efficient and expend less energy, time, and digesting enzymes.

Di/Tri-peptide and AA transportation mechanisms

To better understand the correlation between low-molecular weight peptides in the feed and protein absorption efficiency, let’s first explore the Di/Tri-peptides and AA journey into the enterocytes.

Figure 1: Di/Tri-peptides and Amino Acids are transported into the enterocytes and absorbed into the bloodstream

Di/Tri-peptides transporters prove to be more efficient than AA transporters due to: (i) Ability to carry 2-3 AAs at one time (compared to only 1 AA with AA transporters), (ii) Compatibility with all Di/Tri-peptides (compared to the selectivity of AA transporters), (iii) Co-transporting with ion H+ which are always available in the body whereas AA transporters co-transport with ion Na+ but depend on the concentration of different ions (Na+, K+, etc.) [2]. In fact, approximately 80% of AAs are absorbed into the bloodstream through Di/Tri-peptides pathway.

Digestibility of Shrimp-based Functional Peptides

It can be concluded that protein absorption efficiency is strongly linked to Peptides/ AA content in feed ingredients.

Peptide composition (amount, size and diversity) is closely dependent on the quality of raw materials and the hydrolysis parameters of manufacturing process. Owing to advanced enzymatic biotechnology and protein-rich shrimp raw materials, VNF’s Shrimp-based Functional Peptides contain a much higher percentage of peptides out of crude protein content compared to conventional market options (fishmeal,  blood feather meat bone mix, soybean meal, etc.)

Feed ingredientsCrude Protein %Peptides/Crude Protein %
Distiller’s grains26.48.3
Blood feather meat bone mix80.66.95
Soybeans meal48.43.93
Shrimp-based Functional peptides *20.474
Shrimp-based Functional peptides (high degree of hydrolysis) *20.685
Source: [3], *VNF’s analysis

On the other hand, shrimp protein hydrolysate boasts bountiful low molecular weight peptides compared to other marine hydrolysates (tuna, salmon, krill) [4] (figure 2). In addition, the molecular weight distribution chart below reveals the relative low average molecular weight (approximately 231 Dalton) of VNF’s Shrimp-based Functional Peptides. As a benchmark reference, the molecular weight of AAs ranges from 75 Dalton (Lys) to 204 Dalton (Trp). Thus, Functional Peptides are proven to be abundant in low molecular weight peptides.

Figure 2: Abundance & Diversity of peptides <1kDa of marine hydrolysatesFigure 3: Molecular Weight distribution chart of VNF’s Shrimp-based Functional Peptides
Source: [4]Source: VNF’s Shrimp-based functional peptides analysis

Amongst marine hydrolysates, shrimp-based protein hydrolysate (with high degree of hydrolysis) is diverse in low molecular weight peptide types (bioactive peptides included) [3] (figure 2). Most significantly, VNF’s Shrimp-based Functional Peptides contain all the essential AAs and 18/22 AAs in the genetic code (figure 4) . Ultimately, our Functional peptides offer a diverse and balanced AAs supply for protein synthesis and superior animal growth.

Figure 4: Abundance & Diversity of AAs in VNF’s Shrimp-based Functional Peptides

Applications & Values of ‘Shrimp-Based Functional Peptides’

Many experiments have been conducted to test the potential of replacing partially fishmeal with shrimp protein hydrolysate in feed formulations for aquaculture (including juvenile cobia [5], juvenile olive flounder [6], and red sea bream [7]). The results demonstrated significant improvement in Feed Conversion Ratio, protein consumption efficiency, and animal growth. Shrimp-based Functional peptides are hence an feasible solution to reduce fishmeal and total crude protein in feed.

Additionally, Functional peptides can also solve other common feed issues:

– At the hot weather animal husbandry area or for reluctant eating & lower feed intake due to heat stress: Reducing the energy expended for protein digestion, heat production, thus, the negative impacts on animals’ health from the heat stress [8].

– Offspring: Due to their underdeveloped digestive system, offspring require a highly digestive peptide-rich diet to reduce diarrhea occurrences and promote crucial growth [9].


With high digestibility and rich nutrition, locally produced Shrimp-based Functional Peptides promise a novel solution for the feed industry and reduced dependence on imported protein ingredients.

Figure 5: Applications and benefits of Shrimp-based Functional Peptides

Stay tuned for VNF’s next article, where we discuss the attractability and palatability functions of our Functional Peptides solution!


[1]. Retrieved on 29/03/2021

[2]. (Retrieved on 30/3/2021)

[3].       G. Licitra et al., “Standardization of procedures for nitrogen fractionation of ruminant feeds”, Animal Feed Science Technology 57 (1996) 347-358. Table 2, page 350.

[4] A Leduc et al., “A standardized, innovative method to characterize the structure of aquatic protein hydrolysates”, Heliyon 6 (2020).

[5] Costa-Bomfim et al, “Growth, feed efficiency and body composition of juvenile cobia (Rachycentron canadum Linnaeus, 1766) fed increasing dietary levels of shrimp protein hydrolysate”, Aquaculture Research (2016), 1–8

[6] Khosravis et al, “Supplementation of Protein Hydrolysates to a Low-fish meal Diet Improves Growth and Health Status of Juvenile Olive Flounder”, Journal of the world aquaculture society (2018), 897-911

[7] S. Khosravi et al., ”Effects of protein hydrolysates supplementation in low fish meal diets on growth performance, innate immunity and disease resistance of red sea bream”, Fish & Shellfish Immunology 45 (2015), 858-868

[8] Retrieved on 24/03/2021 [9] Sun et al., “Effect of Partial Substitution of Dietary Spray-dried Porcine Plasma or Fishmeal with Soybean and Shrimp Protein Hydrolysate on Growth Performance, Nutrient Digestibility and Serum Biochemical Parameters of Weanling Piglets”, Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 22 (2009) (7), 1032-1037