August 12, 2022
Startups in Thailand explore use of insects to produce animal feed
Startups in Thailand are focusing on insects to make animal feed, seeking to help alleviate increasing pressure on livestock farmers to move toward sustainability.
"Insect-derived feed can be a solution to the circular economy," said Peter Hamilton, chief executive officer of Biovert Protein, a Thai startup developing technology to pulverise black soldier fly larvae to process into fish feed.
Biovert plans to build a factory in the Eastern Economic Corridor, a special economic zone in Thailand, by 2024 to launch full-scale production.
Concerns about sustainability in industrial agriculture are rising.
In Europe, livestock, which consumes massive volumes of grains, is considered an environmental concern and avoidance of meat is gaining steam. This presents a problem that needs attention for many companies in Thailand, a leading food exporter.
Black soldier fly eggs hatch in four days and become pupae in 14 days. The insects contain abundant protein as well as calcium and amino acids. They can be mass-produced in a short period of time and are strong alternative to grain-based feed, Biovert said.
The company's other goal is to reduce food waste. Black soldier fly larvae require a massive amount of food for growth, so the company buys spent grain from a local beer brewery.
Europe is leading in the insect protein market, but Southeast Asia offers lower barriers to new entrants. Thailand, in particular, is promoting the development of environmentally friendly technologies, spurring new businesses in the field.
These include FlyLab, another startup working on black soldier flies in northern Chiang Mai. Thai Union Group, the company behind the Chicken of the Sea canned tuna brand, also announced in 2021 an investment in Orgafeed, which develops pet food with black soldier fly larvae.
Reducing production costs is a major challenge.
These startups are pouring money into finding out the optimal environment for enhancing the nutritional value of insects and they must pass these costs on to customers to turn a profit. This means they not only have to get livestock farmers to invest in sustainability but also bring down prices as low as possible to conventional grain-based feed.
- Nikkei Asia