Since 2016, the insect-derived protein start-up has been operating a 1,500sq m facility in Tanzania, producing 10 metric tons of insect meal every month from black soldier flies fed on organic food waste.
Having secured a grant from the BioInnovate Africa program funded by the Swedish Development Agency, BioBuu is now planning a second facility with triple the capacity. The new factory will process 20 tons of waste daily from hotels and markets around Mombasa using 60 million larvae.
“Ultimately, our game plan is to set up insect processing plants all across Africa where there is waste available,” Matthew Haden, BioBuu’s co-founder and commercial director told FeedNavigator.
Malawi next stop
Haden said BioBuu was looking at Malawi as its next location and had already established a partnership with a feed mill there.
“We are looking at raising money for that right now,” he said.
BioBuu has also signed MoUs (Memorandums of Understanding) in other East African countries, including Uganda and Zambia and is looking at the islands of Zanzibar and Mozambique – “anywhere where the weather is right.”
Since Haden and business partner Kigen Compton founded BioBuu in 2016, the venture has attracted $1.2m in grant funding, much of which has gone into research and development.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time and have run over 500 tests looking at everything from how much waste to put in, to what the optimum combination of waste is and how much light is needed," Haden said. "The hard part is breeding large numbers in captivity. Just because we have got it right in one location doesn’t mean the same system will automatically work in another location.”
Continents apart from European approach
Haden emphasized that BioBuu has no intention of trying to compete with the major European insect players.
“We are way behind the big European companies, but our approach is very different – it is labor-intensive and perfect for Africa. We are looking to do small scale models producing around a ton a day, because the labor is available, and we don’t need lots of heat,” explained Haden.
BioBuu’s main customers are poultry and fish farmers, rather than large feed mills.
“We supply poultry farms with as few as 50 birds to as many as 50,000," he said. "We don’t produce the quantities needed to supply companies who are producing feed formulations on a large scale, which is why we haven’t engaged with the bigger feed mills.”
He continued: “Our focus isn’t to make money by selling to this market; it is to reduce feed costs for small and medium-sized farmers and to provide a sustainable solution to the problems of food waste and production of animal feed without using large tracts of land.”
He said insect meal can replace up to 50% of the soy or fish meal in a formulation.
The next step for the business is to seek private investment.
“To date, we have relied on grant funding and our own money to grow the business. We will get six months of production at our Kenyan factory under our belt and then I think we will be ready to go for commercial funding,” said Haden.