Self-proclaimed ‘waste-to-nutrient upcycler’, AgriProtein, is set to build 20 farms in the United States and Canada — fly farms, that is.
The company started building its first commercial-scale factory in 2014. Just two years later, it announced the securement of 17.5 million USD in capital just to fund expansion in Europe, North America and Asia. Now, it’s working towards a global target of 100 fly farms by 2024 and 200 by 2027.
The insect farms are being awarded for using organic waste to produce a protein substitute to fishmeal, which is used in aquaculture, agriculture, and petfood formulations.
The farms manage Hermetia illucens, a species of insect known commonly as black soldier flies. H. illucens, according to the company, tend to avoid human habitations and are neither pests, nor vectors for disease. They are also efficient organic waste users.
Not unlike the livestock we’re a little more familiar with, the farmed flies are selected for high performance, and given the conditions that best suit their ability to reproduce healthy offspring.
And what the cattle industry refers to as a ‘total-mixed ration’, AgriProtein calls ‘LarvaeLunch’, a feed mixture created specifically for the needs of the livestock.
Over the short span of 10 days, larvae increase their body weight 200-fold. To appease their appetites, in a standard population of 8.5 billion flies, AgriProtein feeds roughly 250 tonnes of organic waste per day.
A Focus on the Environment
The company’s marketing efforts primarily focus around the technology’s impact on the environment. Besides keeping usable organic waste out of landfills, the use of this form of protein, says the company, will help decrease reliance on ocean fish stock.
“With supplies of fishmeal dwindling we’re moving as quickly as we can to bring insect protein into the mainstream of animal feed,” said co-founder and CEO Jason Drew. “As well as ensuring continued supply of protein in the years ahead, replacing fishmeal with insect meal allows our oceans to heal, reduces greenhouse gases at every stage of the supply chain from point-of-catch to point-of-sale and leaves more fish in the sea for humans.”
In February, AgriProtein announced its ability to up-cycle up to 91,000 tonnes of organic waste per year.
In a single day, one AgriProtein fly farm can take in 250 tonnes of organic waste, and produce 16 tonnes of MagMeal. In a year, it will produce nearly 5000 tonnes of the product, in addition to 2000 tonnes of MagOil.
The company’s signature product, MagMeal, is a high-protein feed made from dried, milled and de-fatted larvae. It contains roughly 55% protein, with a similar amino acid profile to fishmeal.
MagOil, on the other hand, is high in lauric acid, and, according to the company, can also be used in animal feeds, or for biodiesel.
And finally, the by-product: MagSoil, a high-quality compost.
North America Initiative
In the next ten years, the North America division of AgriProtein intends to create fifteen factories, divert one million tonnes of organic waste into nutrient recycling, and improve food security on the continent.
“The US is the world’s biggest consumer of protein and the world’s biggest producer of organic waste, a very important market for us,” says Jon Duschinsky, CEO of AgriProtein North America. “And as AgriProtein is disrupting three industries – agriculture, aquaculture and animal feed – it’s natural we chose the world centre of disruptive technologies to launch our North American campaign.”
The new factories will employ approximately sixty people.