Insect protein extraction is proving massive growth business for Reinartz

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Related tags Insect Protein extraction Asia Europe

The global demand for insect protein is increasing rapidly, said German separation process specialist, Reinartz, which is active in the development of machinery for the efficient extraction of proteins from insect larvae.

The technology provider offers a complete program for insect protein production, from tailor-made system planning to commissioning, along with monitoring and employee training.

Speaking to FeedNavigator, Michael Moll, managing director of the long-established company in Neuss am Rhein, said the insect protein business area is developing rapidly in Reinartz, now accounting for 30% percent of business. “It is becoming an increasingly important topic for us.”

The German player’s core focus is in the supply of cold pressing separation processes for oil and protein extraction from seeds, for press cakes made from rapeseed and soy, with that area representing some 60% of its business.

“But, in the field of resource exploitation from biomass, from leaves and grass, for example, the demand for our machines and services is also constantly increasing.”  

In terms of the rationale behind Reinartz’s decision to move into the area of insect protein production technology, Moll said:

“We started about seven years ago. At that time, the Katz brothers from Hermetia approached us and asked if we could develop technology for an efficient separation process for protein extraction from insect larvae of the black soldier fly (BSF). That sounded very exciting to us. So, we started testing in our laboratory. After around two months, it was clear that we could also achieve very good results in this sector. The results and protein values far exceeded everyone's expectations. We then established a cooperative alliance with Hermetia and focused intensively on optimizing the separation processes. This is how we [gained] international attention. Meanwhile we have now installed over 20 plants around the world. One of these has a maximum input of 6,000 tons per year.

“This year we anticipate the realization of three large plants. The clients are big players in the insect market. Our order books are already full for 2020. The logical consequence is that we continue to grow at our location in Neuss.”

Tailoring the design

He said the company’s systems, separation processes, engineering and consulting are always tailored to the needs of the customer.

“At the beginning of a project, we first look at how much substrate is available, how much energy is available for a system and, of course, which product the customer wants to manufacture. Finally, the space available and the budget also play a role. We then [discuss] all the other details in our pre-engineering in consultation with the customer.”

Reinartz is currently focused on Asia and Europe in respect of insect protein production customers. “But we also expect significant growth on the other continents.”

When asked what kind of growth potential does he see for Reinartz in the insect meal manufacturing sector, Moll was effusive: “It is realistic for us to put the growth potential at 300% compared to 2019. That is what the current figures show. We recently sold four systems in a single day. There are also smaller ones, but also large projects, in which we deliver everything from pre-engineering to installation from a single source. We take on the configuration, control and assist and supervise the projects with our Service 4.0. With a high degree of automation, we ensure effective system control via the IoT.”

Cold press innovation

Looking at innovation in its core business, Moll said the team has developed a separation process that allows feed manufacturers achieve a press cake temperature of less than 70 degrees Celsius in cold pressing.

“With this, we generate a massively higher protein content in quality when extracting protein from rapeseed or sunflower press cake. This is a milestone.”

In addition, he said the field of biomass holds great development potential for Reinartz.

“Many co-products and rejects are still disposed of unused. We develop product-specific separation processes and show our customers how they can use their biomass profitably and in resource-friendly way, with an efficient recycling rate.” 

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