In the Netherlands, Bühler Insect Technology will build an industrial plant to process black solider flies for animal nutrition, including pet food, together with its partner Protix.

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 domestic 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.

History of Bühler Insect Technology

In January 2017, Bühler and Protix founded the joint venture Bühler Insect Technology. Building this black soldier fly processing plant in Europe may serve as a modular and scalable blueprint for future projects. The company stated that this facility will be the first industrial-scale black soldier fly larvae production center in Europe.

Bühler will deliver the technology, equipment, and procedural knowledge for the rearing and processing of the insects and the feedstock preparation.

In June, Netherlands-based Protix, an insect protein company that provides novel pet food protein sources, closed EUR45 million in funding. The funding was delivered by Aqua-Spark, an investment company focused on sustainable aquaculture, Rabobank, BOM and various private investors.

Edible insects creeping into pet food popularity

Insects have been growing in popularity as a pet food ingredient over the past several years. While some may gag at the thought of beetle pieces in their own oatmeal or dog’s kibble, intentionally using those six-or-more-legged protein sources as a replacement for four- and two-legged animals has grown in acceptance.

Barriers to bugs in pet food

Although insect farms provide healthy protein using less resources than other animals, barriers such as regulatory, production and supply issues have stymied the use of insects, except for a few pioneering dog food and treats, wrote Debbie Phillips-Donaldson in her Petfood Industry blog “Pet food trends: Are Western consumers ready for insects?

On the regulatory front in the United States, Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) members decided that new AAFCO definitions would be needed for each insect and type of insect-based ingredient, such as flour, meal or protein concentrate. Additionally, the definitions would need to consider the species to which the insect-based ingredient would be fed. To date, only one insect, black solder fly larvae (AAFCO #T60.117) has been defined by AAFCO, and that is limited to use in salmon aquaculture.