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Meet the farmer: Aude Guo

30 May 2021, at 8:00am

Aude Guo co-founded vertical farming startup InnovaFeed when she was 29 and now leads operations at the world's largest vertical insect farm.

What is your name, age, role and country of operation?

I am Aude Guo, 34 and I co-founded InnovaFeed in France (and soon to be in the US), a company that raises black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) with vertical farming technologies to produce natural, high performing and sustainable nutrients for animal feed, an in particular aquafeeds.

Black and white picture of a woman
Aude Guo co-founded InnovaFeed in 2016 and now oversees its vertical farming operations

© InnovaFeed

How long have you been farming for?

We created InnovaFeed five years ago, at a time where insect industry was very new and innovative for the ag-tech sector.

What size is your farm and what species do you produce?

Our vertical farm in the north of France is the largest in activity in the world: its production capacity can provide insect protein from black soldier flies to feed up to 200,000 tonnes of fish. The site spreads over 25,000m² and is 12 metres high.

Aerial view of an indoor vertical farm
InnovaFeed's vertical farm can produce enough insect meal to feed up to 200,000 tonnes of fish

© InnovaFeed

What sort of production system do you operate?

We operate a very unique farm, completely adapted to insects, which are sensitive animals that require precise control of their ambiance parameters - like temperature, hygrometry, density and airflow. All of the farm processes are automated and managed through AI systems that use more than 3,000 sensors on site and real time data analytics.

Why did you decide to embark on a career in the insect industry?

Insects appeared as a natural, sustainable and high performing solution to one of the major challenges of the 21st century: feeding a growing population while preserving our planet and its diminishing resources.

What’s your ultimate ambition in the sector?

Our ambition is to build more sustainable, natural and resilient food systems, by reintegrating insects at the heart of the food system, and allowing them to play the role they play in nature at larger scale.

Two farm technicians holding insect growth medium
Insect farmers have to keep the farming environment stable to scale up production

© InnovaFeed

What’s your biggest challenge at work?

Insect rearing is a very specialised type of farming. It requires complete control of ambient parameters.

The major challenge for myself and the team is scaling up the technologies we developed over the last few years. We need to preserve the perfect growth environment for the insects while drastically increasing their volumes and productivity. Managing that takes up a lot of our energy.

What’s your greatest achievement to date?

What I am most proud of is gathering an amazing team of more than 150 engineers, operators, biologists, agronomists and entomologists to create more sustainable food systems and make our project and ambition a reality.

Two farm technicians in front of processing equipment
Aude Guo recruited a diverse team of engineers, biologists and entomologists to work at the vertical farm

© InnovaFeed

What piece of equipment would you most like to have on your farm?

We are investing a lot in technologies and co-developing our equipment: as the insect industry is very young and innovative, we had to design some pieces of equipment from scratch, specifically for insect rearing.

What’s your favourite seafood dish?

The insect-fed trout of course! We are really proud to be able to offer a sustainable and tasty product benefiting from our insect protein. It's been in French stores since 2018.

If you would like to be considered for taking part in this Fish Site series, please contact megan@hatch.blue with the details of your farm.