Buhler builds first industrial-scale insect processing plant in Europe


Industrialisation of insect processing enters next stage

Bühler Insect Technology will build its first industrial plant to process black soldier flies for animal nutrition together with its partner Protix in the Netherlands.

Bühler will deliver the technology, equipment and process know-how for the rearing and processing of the insects and the feedstock preparation.

Start of operation is planned for the first half of 2018. Andreas Aepli, CEO of Bühler Insect Technology, says: “With this first industrial insect protein production plant, we will make an important step towards a more sustainable global food and feed value chain.”

Protein is an essential component of nutrition for both humans and animals. About 15% of the daily energy intake should be covered by protein, to build and repair the cells that sustain life.

Agriculture produces roughly 525 million tonnes of plant protein a year, found in corn, rice, wheat or soybeans. However, today’s protein production is not sustainable: only 25% of proteins arrive as vegetable proteins on our plates, while 15% are wasted and 60% are used to produce animal protein.

Furthermore, with the growing world population, protein production needs to double by 2050. Experts agree this cannot be achieved using traditional farming practices and resources, which is why alternative sources for protein such insects or algae are becoming increasingly important.

Insects offer a sustainable alternative: grown on organic residues, they can recover up to 70% of nutrients, thus recycling these underutilised streams back to the food value chain.

Largest insect-processing plant on an industrial scale in Europe

In January 2017, Bühler and Protix founded the joint venture Bühler Insect Technology to serve the insect processing industry.

Building the first black soldier fly processing plant in Europe together is the next step in this co-operation and will serve as a modular and scalable blueprint for future projects.

The plant will be situated in the Netherlands and will serve customers in the feed industry.

With construction starting this year, the plant is expected to be operational in the first half of 2018. It will produce protein meal and lipids that are used in the animal nutrition sector to feed pigs, chicken, fish, and domestic animals.

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The black soldier fly larvae are fed carefully selected organic by-products from local distilleries, food producers and vegetable collectors in the Netherlands, which further underlines the sustainability of the process.