Bühler Insect Technology will build its first industrial-scale plant to process black solider flies for animal nutrition, together with its partner Protix, in the Netherlands.
Bühler will deliver the technology, equipment and process know-how for the rearing and processing of the insects and the feedstock preparation. Start of operation is planned for the first half of 2018.
Andreas Aepli, CEO of Bühler Insect Technology, said: “With this first industrial insect protein production plant we will make an important step towards a more sustainable global food and feed value chain.”
Protein is an essential component of nutrition for both humans and animals. About 15% of daily energy intake should be from protein in order to build and repair the cells that sustain life.
The agriculture industry produces roughly 525 million metric tons of plant-based protein a year, found in corn, rice, wheat and soybeans. However, today’s protein production is not sustainable: Only 25% of proteins on our plates are vegetable proteins, while 15% are wasted and 60% are animal-based proteins. Furthermore, with the growing world population, protein production needs to double by 2050.
Experts agree that this cannot be achieved using traditional farming practices and resources, which is why alternative sources for protein -- such insects or algae -- are becoming increasingly important. Insects offer a sustainable alternative, as they are grown on organic residues and can recover up to 70% of nutrients, thus recycling these underutilized streams back to the food value chain.
In January 2017, Bühler and Protix founded the joint venture Bühler Insect Technology to serve the insect processing industry. Building the first black soldier fly processing plant in Europe together is the next step in this cooperation and will serve as a modular and scalable blueprint for future projects, the companies said.
The plant will be situated in the Netherlands and will serve customers in the feed industry. With construction starting this year, the plant is expected to be operational in the first half of 2018. It will produce protein meal and lipids that are used in the animal nutrition sector to feed pigs, chicken, fish and domesticated animals.
The black soldier fly larvae are fed carefully selected organic byproducts from local distilleries, food producers and vegetable collectors in the Netherlands, which further underlines the sustainability of the process, the companies noted.