Last week, Protix opened its new, 14,000-sq-m facility, making it the largest processing plant for insects worldwide. It is proof that insects have become a viable protein source for sustainable animal feed. Bühler is proud to have supported Protix in reaching this milestone.
In order to create a major impact on the sustainability of the global supply of protein, many more plants need to be built across the globe following this pioneering effort.
Bringing a EUR 45 million investment to a close, Protix last week opened the world’s largest insect protein facility with His Majesty the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
“Protix has now fully transitioned into a commercially operating company with the new facility as proof of our progress,” said Kees Aarts, founder and CEO of Protix. “We are leading the way here, technically, operationally, and commercially. The new fully automated processing solution provides a major quality increase with consistency improvements. This opening of the new facility therefore marks a major transition, not only for our company, but also for the entire sector, and the markets we are producing for.”
The plant produces protein meal and lipids that are used in the animal nutrition sector to feed pigs, chicken, fish, and domestic animals. The black soldier fly larvae that are bred and processed in this facility are fed carefully selected organic byproducts from local distilleries, food producers, and vegetable collectors.
Insect Protein Market Picks Up
The CEO of Bühler Insect Technology Solutions, Andreas Aepli, sees a promising future for the new plant. “Protix pioneered what many others only talk about – insect production at a truly industrial scale, with world-class quality and safety standards. Congratulations on this momentous achievement. We are proud to have played a major part in this project and are looking forward to supporting Protix in their ambitious growth plan.”
Protix has ventured into a growth market. An increased focus on sustainability, coupled with the rising costs of proteins, and the potential health and growth benefits of insect-based ingredients for animals are strong drivers for the emerging insect industry. As a result, the sector has reported over $300 million of investments in 2018 alone.
Sustainability and Scale-Up
“Protix is the most advanced insect company and has now demonstrated that insect protein is a serious alternative source of proteins for many applications,” explains Ian Roberts, CTO of Bühler Group. “With this new plant we have proof that insect protein can be produced on industrial scale. Now we must scale this solution globally to realize a more sustainable protein supply chain.”
Huge Benefits of Insects as Feed Source
Insects are able to recover nutrients from organic residues and bring them back into the food value chain, thereby contributing to a circular economy. Since no fertile land is needed for their production, they are a promising and sustainable new source compared to today’s main alternatives. The black soldier fly larvae Protix has chosen to use are well suited for growth on large scale. Insects can turn low-grade food waste into body mass quickly and sustainably. They need very little room to grow, making for a far smaller carbon footprint than alternative sources of protein.
The Challenge at Hand
Nearly 10 billion people are expected to live on our planet by 2050. To feed them all at expected consumption levels, more than 250 million metric tons of additional protein will be needed per year – that is an increase of 50% compared to today. Providing this growing global population with protein requires new and innovative approaches as existing sources are overused and expanding them is problematic for the environment. Added to the population challenge is the fact that we don’t use the food we produce very efficiently. Roughly one-third of the food intended for human consumption is lost or wasted every year. This accounts for approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of food that never reaches our tables.