Companies to establish North American Insect Center in Canada.

September 6, 2023

3 Min Read
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Bühler, the Swiss technology group, and NRGene Technologies Ltd., an Israeli genomics company, announced a strategic collaboration this week in the field of black soldier fly (BSF) genetics and processing. The two companies are combining their expertise to provide solutions and services to this rapidly evolving industry.

The partnership between Bühler and NRGene offers BSF producers a comprehensive solution that incorporates Bühler's high-end equipment and engineering capabilities and NRGene's novel genetics and AI-based genomics tools. Production equipment and tailor made high-performance BSF strains are integrated into a customized solution that ensures cost-effective industrial scale production from the start. 

“The insect industry is still optimizing its production costs. Advances in insect genetics are key for achieving this. The benefit of genetics is already demonstrated in traditional agriculture. Combining the tailored insect strains with our advanced industrial technology will bring a step change in the production of insects,” said Andreas Baumann, head of market segment insect technology at Bühler. “The overall solution will result in a high yield of superior products while ensuring an efficient use of raw materials, land, water, and energy. This makes the investment in insect production more attractive as it gives owners a crucial competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Dr. Gil Ronen, NRGene’s CEO and founder, commented: "There is a growing demand for meat to feed carnivorous pets and farm animals. It is our belief that to realize BSF's huge potential as an alternative sustainable protein source used for feed, it is essential to integrate the expertise of various disciplines into this new industry, from genetics to engineering. We are excited to partner with Bühler as we move towards a cost-efficient industry scaleup.”

Insects are a healthy and sustainable source of protein for animal feed. They can contribute to a circular economy model as insects can be fed on organic waste, such as food leftovers and waste from agriculture, to produce feed for pets, fish, and livestock. The residues from insect farming, or frass, can in turn be used as a fertilizer, contributing to the zero-waste approach. 

Black soldier fly is considered one of the most sustainable meat alternatives for carnivorous pets and farm animals. Its protein and fat provide animals with a higher level of nutrition and health than other protein sources. The industrial use of BSF is rapidly gaining traction among businesses seeking alternative protein feed sources and more sustainable practices. The main challenge this industry faces right now is reducing production costs in order to make BSF meals more commercially viable for various applications. 

Bühler is a world-leading company with more than 160 years of experience in providing solutions to the food, feed, and mobility industries. In the past 10 years, Bühler has been developing its capabilities in the insect protein industry and has already completed a number of relevant projects in the field. 

NRGene is well known for its advanced AI genomics technology that has been successfully implemented in more than 300 projects for leading ag-tech and food-tech companies across the globe. Aware of the potential of the growing BSF industry and its need for advanced genomic solutions, NRGene decided to develop a novel BSF genetics, through its Canadian wholly owned subsidiary. NRGene’s key goal is to provide its customers with elite BSF varieties, tailored to their specific cultivation conditions and feed. 

New insect center for North America

NRGene will establish a North American Insect Center at its Canadian subsidiary in Saskatchewan. Bühler will equip the Insect Center with insect growth chambers with controlled environments and sensors that can simulate industrial conditions and provide process insights. The center will serve as a testing and demonstration facility for both companies' customers, enabling them to evaluate the performance of chosen BSF variety, operational parameters, and practices, in order to ensure efficient industrial scale insect production. 

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