“Insect protein manufacturing contributes to the round financial system”

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“Insect protein manufacturing contributes to the round financial system”

01/26/2023 — The current agricultural systems are not able to sustainably feed the world population. According to FlyFeed, an international insect farming start-up based in Estonia, this problem will only get worse as the global demand for protein grows. The company’s long-term goal is to make the black soldier fly (BSF)-based protein meal three times cheaper than chicken by 2027.

Black soldier fly (BSFL) larvae play a similar role to redworms as key decomposers in breaking down organic substrates and returning nutrients to the soil. The larvae have voracious appetites and can be used to compost food scraps and agricultural waste. In addition, BSFL are an alternative protein source for aquaculture, animal feed, pet food and human consumption.

FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to FlyFeed founder and CEO Arseniy Olkhovskiy, who says the demand for insect products is “already much higher than the available supply.”

“In 2022, there were 3 billion people who could not afford a healthy diet and 1 billion people were malnourished or not getting enough calories,” he explains.

As the world’s population grows rapidly, Olkhovskiy believes that innovative solutions should be introduced quickly to address the problem of malnutrition.

“Governments are trying to address malnutrition problems at the national level, but face limitations and are slow to make decisions due to significant oversight,” he says.

There have been a number of recent developments in the field of insect proteins. Last October, the International Platform for Insects in Food and Feed welcomed the green light from the authorities of the European Union Member States for the European Commission’s draft implementing regulations aimed at restricting the marketing of frozen and freeze-dried formulations of the small mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus ) and partially defatted house crickets (Acheta domesticus).

Olkhovskiy believes that innovative solutions should be introduced quickly to address the problem of malnutrition.Earlier this month, Singapore-based start-up Protenga also discussed how it uses BSF and the potential insect protein as animal feed, pet food, fertilizer and possibly beyond into the food space.

Meanwhile, the post-Brexit sector has been in limbo on the legal status of edible insects in the UK as Woven, the UK’s insect food and feed network, campaigns to ensure insects are safe to eat and Could be part of a future shift that will see increasing numbers of ento-vegetarians worldwide.

Technologies and new methods expand the offer
Start-ups can iterate quickly to implement new technologies, Olkhovskiy points out.

“The absence of bureaucratic constraints allows entrepreneurs to develop and refine ideas through innovative methods. By using these methods, we can scale production more effectively. This makes companies more lucrative, opens up the global market and helps solve global problems faster and more effectively.”

For this reason, FlyFeed regards other insect protein manufacturers as collaborators rather than competitors. The company also shares the same commitment to developing sustainable protein production, Olkhovskiy tells us.

“All insect farms can be scaled up and produce hundreds of times more protein per square meter than soybean or livestock farming. Second, insect protein production contributes to the circular economy by converting food waste into healthy proteins and fats around the world.”

protein boost
Insect protein can be incorporated into a range of dishes, from appetizers and snacks to complete original meals. “It can provide a high-quality source of animal protein, as well as essential fatty acids and vitamins, making it an excellent addition to any diet,” Olkhovskiy continues.

Insects can be cooked, ground into powder, or made into flour and used in a variety of recipes, from tortillas to energy bars. Additionally, insect protein is a great way to add a unique flavor to traditional dishes like soups, salads, and appetizers.

Of course, insect protein production uses far less water, land, and energy than any livestock protein. Hence, it serves as a high-quality and low-cost ingredient to boost productivity in the food industry and the human food chain in general, due to the circular economy and its incredible flexibility as part of a nutritious diet.

FlyFeed produces insect protein from the black soldier fly. They are exceptionally high in protein and fat and their bioconversion is very efficient.

“The potential option for pets and humans is to eat whole dried larvae – this is a wonderful healthy snack that’s already popular in Vietnam.”

larval development
On July 1, 2017, EU Regulation 2017/893 came into force, which means that the following species are legally allowed for aquafeed: BSF (Hermetia illucens), Common Housefly (Musca domestica), Yellow Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor), Lesser Mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus), house cricket (Acheta domesticus), cricket (Gryllodes sigillatus) and field cricket (Gryllus assimilis).

According to Olkhovskiy, 2023 will be “a landmark year” for FlyFeed as it will complete the construction of its first insect factory in southern Vietnam.

“It will be equipped with leading technical solutions such as data-driven climate control and computer vision to analyze larval development. The production capacity is 17,500 tons of insect products per year, which is achieved by processing 40,000 tons of local agricultural waste,” he comments.

FlyFeed has signed preliminary agreements worth US$10 million for the sale of protein and fat components worldwide, including the European animal feed and aquaculture feed markets.

In addition, the Vietnamese government is very supportive of FlyFeed and insect farming in general and is willing to develop legal infrastructure for such a novel industry, he said. FlyFeed is an international insect farming start-up that aims to reduce global malnutrition by producing the world’s cheapest animal protein.

“We have developed a unique approach to substrate preparation to grow BSF year-round with seasonal agricultural leftovers. This is crucial for strengthening the consistent circular economy. The electrical energy required to run the production mainly comes from nearby hydroelectric power plants and our own solar panels,” explains Olkhovskiy.

BSF larvae are extremely high in protein and fat, so the main focus of processing is to separate the oil from the rest of the meal. Olkhovskiy says it’s no secret that the technologies for this purpose are well developed in the meat and fish processing industry.

“The tricky part is getting them properly attached in our tiny ways while still meeting the product specifications our customers demand.”

There are two main approaches to processing insects: dry and wet processing. According to Olkhovskiy, each of them has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the regulations, the size of the production and the needs of customers. “For the first factory, we committed to implementing a wet utilization process because we aim to produce a higher quality protein.”

Diversify the future
Olkhovskiy sees the main direction in the globalization of insect breeding, which the industry will continue to pursue in the coming years.

“This includes the global spread of insect-based meals by adapting them to local habits. The trend we are currently seeing is geographical diversification of production: industrial insect farming originated in the US and EU, but now more and more companies are successfully starting production in South Africa, Malaysia, South Korea and Brazil,” he explains.

“We are excited to be part of this evolving industry that aims to keep our planet livable for future generations and to provide essential products, new technologies and job opportunities to local communities around the world. Our goal is to expand beyond the first factory in Vietnam to nearby regions with established demand for insect food to better feed the world,” he concludes.

By Elizabeth Green

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