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Fly firm offers "more sustainable alternative" to fishmeal

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
27 June 2017, at 2:19pm

Following the announcement of their joint insect-based processing venture with Protix this morning, the Fish Site caught up with Andreas Baumann, Bühler Corporate Technology, to find out more about the Swiss firm's interest in investing in the production of alternative aquafeeds.

What attracted Bühler to the aquafeed ingredient sector?

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing markets in the food sector. Insects offer a valuable and more sustainable alternative to fishmeal and are likely to become a key ingredient. However, insects are not only attractive for application in aquafeed. The whole feed sector offers promising growth opportunities for Bühler, and we already have a substantial offering for the feed industry

What experience/expertise you bring to the table?

Bühler has a long-standing food and feed processing experience. We are the market leader in a number of industries, such as rice and grain processing. Within the joint venture Bühler Insect Technology, we apply this experience and know-how to develop innovative solutions for the rearing and processing of insects.

Has the insect meal produced by you or Protix been used in any feed trials yet?

The protein meal from black soldier fly larvae is already applied in dog food. Several studies confirm that most fish feed formulations can include up to 25% of insect meal. And, of course, there is still room for optimization of feed formulations.

How does the nutritional profile of your insect meal compares with, for example, fishmeal?

The nutritional profile of insects is very similar to fishmeal, which makes it a perfect – and more sustainable – alternative. In more detail, all essential amino acids are present in similar or higher concentration levels as in fishmeal, with the exception of the sulphuric amino acids (methionine and cysteine). Here, the concentration levels are slightly lower.

How do you project the cost of insects meals and oils comparing to fishmeals and oils?

The scale-up, automation and energy optimization as realized in Bühler’s industrial plant will drastically reduce production costs and make insect meals very attractive from a cost point of view. In general terms, prices of the insect meal will highly depend on the perceived value of the products. Several studies show that insect meals can offer additional benefits compared to fishmeal.

Can you share any details about the design of the farm and its projected capacity?

Bühler will deliver the technology, equipment, and process know how for the rearing and processing of the insects and the feedstock preparation, based on a process developed by Protix. We do not communicate figures about the capacity of our customer’s plant.

When are your BSF products likely to be made available on a commercial scale?

With construction starting this year, the first large scale plant is expected to be operational in the first half of 2018. We are currently in negotiations for several opportunities in Europe and Asia. 

What interactions have you had with aquafeed producers and fish farmers to date?

Already now we are in close collaboration with aquafeed producers and fish farmers. For insect processing as an alternative to traditional aquafeed, we are currently in negotiations for several opportunities in Europe and Asia.

Do you aim to target specific sectors / geographical regions of the aquaculture industry?

We will offer our solutions worldwide. However, Asia and Europe are currently importing large quantities of protein meals for feed applications. This is why we see great potential in these two regions in the near future.