Insect company specializing in egg production to leverage growth in insect protein production

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

 © GettyImages/ipopba
© GettyImages/ipopba

Related tags black soldier fly Insect protein

California-based, HermetiaPro, is working to support the demand for alternative proteins and help develop the black soldier fly production industry with an increased focus on fly genetics and improved egg production.

The insect production company launched in 2017 and works with insect production for use in feed and pet food, said John Paul co-founder and managing partner of HermetiaPro.

“We specialize in almond hull biomass conversion using black soldier fly (BSF) insects, which results in three products – BSF eggs, larvae and soil amendment. 

“We complete the cycle for California almond hull production, producing environmentally conscious and sustainable protein sources," ​he told us.

The company uses a vertical farming method to produce its black soldier flies. 

Almond hull stream 

Hermetia started work initially with house flies, said Paul. However, it shifted focus to work with black soldier flies following a research period. “BSF has the abilities to breakdown just about anything you put in front of it,”​ he added.

One focus of the insect production was to find a way to manage almond hulls, he said. The nut production by-product contains sugar and fiber and about 5bn pounds are generated annually in California.

“It is an ingredient that has traceability history – from the field to the processor to our facility,”​ he added.

“Our angel investor is a California almond processor and our objective was to breakdown his almond hull co-product stream,” ​he said. “Our pilot study, along with other research efforts we learned about, verified our initial theory.”

Hermetia also has a series of patents pending regarding fly breeding and rearing methods, said Paul.

Flies are raised in a contaminate-free environment, he said. The company also developed an artificial intelligence (AI) program to use during the larvae rearing stage.

“Through a variety of proprietary methods, it tracks growth performance from egg to full-grown larvae,” ​he said. “The AI in relation to raising the flies helps keep our genetics team focused on breeding specific BSF genetic strands.”

“We developed this software internally and have embedded multiple elements of traceability to provide our customers transparent information,”​ he added.

Egg production 

The firm also has started to specialize and focus on generating fly eggs for commercial production, Paul said.

“The industry is definitely trending towards specialization and growing aggressively,” ​he said. “We see this as an opportunity. Our expertise provides a clean source of genetics, helping mitigate colony collapse and a resource for struggling with breeding.”

“Right now, we are looking at producing 10kg of eggs a week,” ​he said. “Our average tends to stay on a straight line as we offset the breeding production peaks to keep our orders filled.”

However, the goal with the current production facility is to generate more than 400,000g annually, he said. “We have plans for expansion as we expand our market share,”​ he added.

Going forward, the company has plans to expand into a 75,000 square foot facility that is fully automated, according to company information.

“Our model is robust,” ​Paul said. “It allows us to aggressively scale up to meet production demands in little, to no time.”

The company has started focusing on the production of black soldier fly eggs following experiences buying them both domestically and internationally and finding that there could be variation in viability, he said.

Hermetia has since focused on developing the genetic lines of its flies, he said. “We’ve been fine-tuning our breeding programs, assisting other BSFL producers to buffer their production demands, and help diversify their genetic strands,” ​he added.

“Our breeding program enables us to breed multiple genetic strands simultaneously; without the risk of cross-breeding,” ​Paul said. “Focusing on certain genetic strands can increase production.”

“For example, there are certain strands of BSF genetics that can breakdown fruits and vegetables better than red meat,” ​he added.

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