Bardee raises $5 million to transform food waste into insect protein

Bardee raises $5 million to transform food waste into insect protein.

Melbourne-based Bardee announces it has raised $5m of funding to reshape the global food system by transforming food waste into protein and fertilizer with insects. The investment was led by Blackbird Ventures, alongside angel investors including Greta Bradman, Didier Elzinga, founder of Culture Amp and Simon Griffiths, founder of Who Gives A Crap.

After two years in stealth mode, Bardee has opened a 2,500 sqm facility in Melbourne’s northwest growing and harvesting billions Black Soldier Fly, whose larvae can consume a broad range of food waste and convert it into nutrient-rich protein and organic fertilizer. The larvae grow three thousand times in size in a vertical farming system that offsets 50 tons of carbon emissions per day.

According to a recent United Nations report, roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption each year, 1.3 billion tons, is wasted. Much of that ends up in landfills, where it breaks down into methane, a greenhouse gas thirty times more potent than CO2. Bardee prevents food waste from turning into methane and recycles the nutrients back into the food system.

Shopping centres, supermarkets and local food manufacturing businesses use Bardee to process their food waste. The Black Soldier Fly larvae used to process the waste are considered a non-pests species and are not at risk of damaging crops or disturbing livestock. 

Bardee's technology can recover 90% of the nutrients discarded in food waste ten times faster than commercial composting. The insect manure in the fertilizer means only half the fertilizer is required on organic crops, making the switch to organic more economically viable for farmers.

The larvae produce hundreds of times more protein per square meter than traditional animal feed sources. Bardee’s protein is being launched in new carbon positive pet foods such as Grubbo, livestock feed and aquafeeds, making it possible for people and their pets to eat healthily for the planet. 

Blackbird General Partner Nick Crocker said: “Phoebe and Alex are founders who embody what it means to do your life’s work. As a CEO, Phoebe is an inspiration to our whole team for the way she lives her values, and the way she expresses them through Bardee. Their first facility is a true marvel of biology and engineering, and when there are thousands of Bardee facilities worldwide, not only will we transform the way society processes waste, but the way we deliver protein to animals, and humans alike.” 

Culture Amp’s founder & CEO, and Bardee’s angel investor: "I first met Phoebe in an office hours call for Blackbird. Straight after that call I remember calling Greta and saying "you have to meet Phoebe"--what they are doing is exactly what startups should be. Wickedly hard problem, potentially massive global impact and founders who genuinely can't do anything but get in and do what everyone else thinks is impossible. So excited to be on this ride with her and the team." 

Bardee was founded in 2019 by architect Phoebe Gardner and entomologist Alex Arnold who started by chopping discarded tuna heads in a university car park to feed to insects in a benchtop-scale lab. Bardee has now attracted STEM talent worldwide, working remotely and in Melbourne to deliver Bardee’s world-leading commercial facility. 

“Insects are nature’s most powerful upcyclers and are the missing link to reshape our food system,” said Bardee CEO and co-founder Phoebe Gardner. “Food production must double by 2050 to feed the global population, but a third of food produced today ends up in landfills. Bardee produces proteins, fats, and fertilizers from food waste with insects and uses no additional water, hormones or additives to replace unsustainable food sources being shipped across the globe. Bardee’s technology has the potential to play a pivotal role in the transition to a sustainable circular economy where we avoid the devastating impacts of climate change.”

Bardee is currently hiring for roles across production, insect breeding and business development. You can learn more about these roles and Bardee’s products here.
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