MicroHarvest opens aquafeed alternative pilot plant in Portugal; Insectum debuts portable black soldier fly farm

MicroHarvest team

SeafoodSource is closely following the sustainable seafood movement by compiling a regular round-up of sector updates about sustainability initiatives and certifications.

- On 17 November, MicroHarvest opened a pilot plant in Lisbon, Portugal (pictured) to accelerate the commercialization of a single-cell protein additive from bacterial microorganisms, a product the company said can be used across multiple markets, including aquafeed. 

The plant will accelerate the innovation of new products, including potential replacements for traditional fishmeal ingredients,

“The single-cell protein ingredients can play a vital value-add role in aquaculture as a sustainable source of protein that will help reduce the impact of eating seafood,” MicroHarvest CEO Katelijne Bekers told SeafoodSource. “It can also guarantee a consistent and scalable supply of feed material in the future without sacrificing nutrition or taste. To develop these high-value ingredients, we need sufficient amounts of material. Labs are often too small to produce relevant sample quantities while working with external plants means high costs and long waiting times. This pilot plant is a huge step forward in bringing to market these next-generation feed ingredients: we can be agile in product development and produce samples fast, working collaboratively with our aquaculture customers.”

MicroHarvest Chief Technology Officer Luisa Cruz said MicroHarvest's technology required a smaller investment when compared to other fishmeal alternatives.

"Within a mere 200 square meters, we can achieve a daily production of 25 kilograms,”  Cruz said. "Compared to animal or plant-derived ingredients, our production system needs thousands of times less space and a fraction of the water, compared to animal or plant-derived ingredients, to achieve the same protein outputs, with high scalability potential."

The Hamburg, Germany-headquartered company has doubled in size since opening its Lisbon office, Bekers said. 

“Within the next three months, we are on track to introduce our first product to the market. These milestones underscore our commitment to driving real impact by bringing commercially competitive, consistent, and sustainable ingredients to market fast," Bekers said.

 - Entobel, which is developing a method of insect protein production for animal and plant nutrition, has opened of a black soldier fly production plant in Vung Tau, Vietnam. It is the largest black soldier fly larvae plant in Asia, the company said. 

"Today marks a major milestone in our journey to transform the insect protein landscape and supply sustainable feed ingredients to the rapidly growing aquaculture and pet food industries, Entobel co-founders and co-CEOs Alexandre de Caters and Gaetan Crielaard said in a joint statement.

The plant was built in 12 months and the most capex-efficent black soldier fly facility in the world, according to the company. It features 50 levels of vertical rearing, automation, and data analytics capabilities. 

"The Entobel team has demonstrated capital allocation efficiency and execution excellence through the successful construction of two industrial-scale facilities in the last four years. Successful commissioning of the Vung Tau plant, one of the largest globally as measured by insect protein production capacity, has de-risked the operational and technological aspects of the business model, enabling the plant to serve as a blueprint for Entobel's rapid regional expansion," Entobel CTO Sandy Singh Sandhu said. 

Crielaard told SeafoodSource in October 2022 insect meal production at scale has arrived. He said the “inflection point of proving scalability and competitiveness” has been reached by Entobel, which raised USD 30 million (EUR 28.8 million at the time) in funding in May 2022 to help it build itsVung Tau plant. The firm is already looking at “expansion and duplicating the model globally,” Crielaard said.

- Tjele, Denmark-based startup Insectum has created a system to turn black soldier fly larvae into aquaculture and animal feed. Insectum Insectum Board Member Kristian Scheef Madsen the company's modular solution is simple, quick to build, and cost-effective, offering up to a 75 percent reduction in capex compared to other insect-rearing facilities.

“We have secured the system with patents in major markets such as the U.S.A., China, India, and the E.U., as well as in several other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America, and we are now preparing to introduce our system in a franchise model,” Madsen said.

The systems are plug-and-play units that are easy to transport and can be delivered by ship, train, or truck.

“At Insectum, we look forward to the coming years, and we are excited to create strong businesses together with franchise partners around the world ...  who share our desire to make a positive difference for the climate, the environment, the food system, and at the same time turning a profit,"Madsen said. 

- Three U.K.-based fish and chip shops have been nominated as finalists for the National Federation of Fish Friers’ 2024 National Fish and Chips Awards, sponsored by Seafood from Norway. 

Machynlleth, Wales-based Hennighan’s, Mansfield Woodhouse, Mansfield-based Seaqueen Fisheries, and Hornsea, Yorkshire-based Whiteheads Fish and Chips are the nominees in the environmental and sustainability category. All nominees have demonstrated long-term commitments to buying sustainably sourced ingredients, the organization said.

“There has been a clear progression from this year’s chip shop hopefuls with their incorporation of sustainable measures in their business models. The industry climate is tough, with growing pressures to increase environmentally friendly standards, and our three finalists are exemplary in being accountable in achieving the requirements,” National Federation of Fish Fries Organizer Andrew Crook said in a release. 

Photo courtesy of MicroHarvest


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