Web Date: December 7, 2016
Fly farming pioneer AgriProtein attracts investors
About one-third of the world’s food production goes to waste, according to the United Nations. Now, a South African start-up called AgriProtein has found a way to recycle those nutrients to solve another food industry challenge: creating a sustainable protein source for aquaculture and other livestock businesses.
Founded in 2008, AgriProtein builds facilities that grind up discarded food and turn it into a paste, which is fed to larvae of the black soldier fly. After they mature the larvae are separated from the waste and sterilized before being processed into protein meal and oil for animal feed. The process also generates a compostlike soil enhancer.
The alternative protein system has attracted the interest of venture investors. AgriProtein just raised $17.5 million from unnamed individuals and partners. A 2014 funding round drew $11 million. The company opened its first plant earlier this year.
The firm sees its products as competing with meal from wild-caught fish that is currently fed to farmed fish and poultry. It says using larvae is more sustainable. Black soldier flies, unlike house flies, are not considered pests, according to the company.
AgriProtein already has plans to expand. It has signed a licensing deal with Twynam Group, an Australian livestock company, to build and operate 20 fly-farming facilities in the region. Part of that investment will come from a $335,000 award from the Australian Government.
A single AgriProtein facility puts 8.5 billion flies to work on 250 metric tons of organic matter per day. Its output is 5,000 metric tons of protein-rich MagMeal and 2,000 metric tons of MagOil annually, according to the company.
“Working with AgriProtein is helping to resolve two sustainability issues: waste management and depleting fishery resources,” says Twynam Chief Executive Officer Johnny Kahlbetzer. “We’re looking forward to pioneering this new sustainable sector with them.”
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