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Bühler to Build Large-Scale Insect Plant in France

Image courtesy of Buhler Agronutris_Plant_BUHLER.jpg
The 16,000-sq-m insect plant in Rethel, France will produce high-quality protein for the aquaculture and pet food markets.
Facility will be first commercial scale black soldier fly plant

French insect producer Agronutris has chosen Bühler Group as its process solution provider for its first commercial scale black soldier fly plant.

Bühler will deliver a full-scope solution for the facility, which will be built in Rethel, France. This collaboration is a major milestone for both organizations. It reinforces Bühler’s commitment to ambitious targets that will help mitigate climate change and build a more sustainable food system and supports Agronutris’ goal to establish itself as a world leader for sustainable nutrition.

When operating at full capacity, the 16,000-sq-m insect plant—which will go into operation in 2023-- will process up to 70,000 tons of organic residues and produce high-quality protein for the aquaculture and pet food markets every year.

“With the launch of this new site, Agronutris is entering its industrial deployment stage. The facility of Rethel will be our springboard for the further industrial development of our activity,” said Mehdi Berrada, CEO of Agronutris. “Bühler is a world-leading company with a tremendous experience in the food and feed sector. We trust in their capabilities to support us in the insect industry. This allows our teams to focus on our core activities: insect biology and operational management of our production flow. Our research and development activities make for our competitive advantage.”

Bühler’s solutions for Agronutris will cover the entire supply chain. This includes feedstock preparation to provide safe, palatable, and nourishing feed to the larvae and a fully automated larvae growth system with sophisticated climate control. Bühler will also deliver the processing line to efficiently transform the grown larvae into protein meal and lipids with consistent quality, as well as the frass (excrement) handling system for a secure offtake of the rearing residues.

In addition, Bühler will be responsible for the entire automation and the timely project execution. The latter encompasses engineering, procurement, manufacturing, supply, installation, and commissioning.

“The new project with Agronutris is a milestone for us. It confirms our goal of establishing ourselves as a key solution provider for the insect industry and to increase the inclusion of insect proteins in animal feed. Our solutions contribute to more sustainable feed supply chains,” said Andreas Baumann, head of market segment insect technology at Bühler.

Growing Demand

To feed 10 billion people who are expected to live on our planet by 2050, about 250 million metric tons of additional protein will be necessary every year. This is an increase of 50% compared to today. The industry must address this challenge with a more sustainable production of existing sources of protein, as well as alternative sources for direct human and animal consumption. Edible insects can play a unique role in upcycling food waste streams to high-quality proteins, which makes them an increasingly important source of protein while being environmentally friendly.

The market of insect proteins as feed is expected to significantly grow in the next 10 years. The total turnover of insect feed operators is expected to achieve EUR 2.2 billion per year by the end of the decade. This growth will be led by two main sectors: the aquaculture sector, which will make up for 30% of sales volumes of insect producers by 2030, and the petfood sector, which will account for 40% of the insect protein sales volumes by 2030.

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