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Alternative protein project grows wings


Fly farms could soon be producing 100,000 tonnes of protein and 60,000 tonnes of oil annually for the aquaculture and poultry feed markets in North America, following this weeks announcement by AgriProtein that it aims to build 20 fly farms in the US and Canada.

Jason Drew, Co-founder and CEO of the waste-to-nutrient upcycler, told The Fish Site “that each factory would be capable of producing 5,000 tonnes of protein and 3,000 tonnes of oil per year”.

In order to achieve its ambition AgriProtein has now set up a dedicated North American team to develop its business locally and build an R&D capability. Headed by Jon Duschinsky, it will identify suitable locations and licensing partners for fly farming operations.

Mr Duchinsky explained to The Fish Site that he believes the time is right to be making a move in the US and Canada.

“As far as regulations go, whole BSF [black soldier fly] larvae fed on pre-consumer waste has already been approved in Canada for poultry and aquaculture. In the US it has been approved for aquaculture and poultry is pending,” he said.

And, now that the regulations are in place, he observes that the market is very receptive to the idea of utilizing this novel source of proteins and lipids.

“Feedback from poultry and aquafeed producers has been overwhelmingly positive. There is a recognition of the value of insect protein, particularly for transition feeds. We are in the process of lining up a small number of partners to do full scale trials later this year,” he points out.

All that remains now is for the firm to raise the necessary capital to set up an extensive North American network, but Mr Drew is fairly confident of achieving this goal.

“Having raised nearly $30m to date, we are in the middle of a final pre-IPO fund raise to fund this current factory roll-out programme,” he said.

The world's biggest fly-farmer and first commercial-scale insect meal producer, the company has global targets of establishing 100 fly farms by 2024 and 200 by 2027. In doing so it aims to mass-produce a replacement for the fishmeal that is currently an essential part of the aquafeed and poultry sectors, while simultaneously tackling the world's growing waste crisis by rearing fly larvae on organic waste which would otherwise go to landfill.

In a press release issued earlier this week Mr Duschinsky said: "The US is the world’s biggest consumer of protein and the world’s biggest producer of organic waste, so is a very important market for us.”

AgriProtein has allocated several international licences to use its technology in Asia, Australasia and the Middle East. Last week the company signed an agreement to build three fly farms in Saudi Arabia. In February it announced a partnership with Austrian engineers Christof Industries, enabling it to roll out its fly factory blueprint on a turnkey basis anywhere in the world at the rate of 25 per year.