Bühler helping French insect feed company to scale up

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/tifonimages
© GettyImages/tifonimages

Related tags Insect protein France Bühler lipids BSF

French insect feed producer, Agronutris, has bolstered its strategic partnership with Bühler in its bid to get to commercial-scale production. Its first industrial plant is scheduled to be up and running in the last quarter of 2021.

“The factory will be built in Rethel, in northern France,”​ Mehdi Berrada, CEO of Agronutris, told FeedNavigator.

Production will be based around three products including Ultra’in, which is made up of dehydrated and defatted black soldier fly larvae, Liboost, a lipidic concentrate obtained through the defatting process applied to the larvae, Fairtil, a fertilizer obtained by the feces of the larvae, he said.

Bühler describes itself as the technology partner for industrial plants, equipment, and related services for the insect industry, saying its insect technology division supports feedstock preparation from organic residues, rearing of the larvae, their processing into protein meal and lipids as well as the processing of the rearing residue into fertilizer products.

Berrada outlined how the benefits for the French biotech company from the partnership with Bühler are manifold, from collaborating with a partner that has already worked on the implementation of insect rearing factories, to securing an integrated approach to its industrial scale-up, where responsibilities are clearly distributed among a limited amount of partners, an approach that allows its team to focus on its core activity of insect biology.

For Bühler, he said the gains are that it gets to work with a team that has already acquired a lot of experience in insect biology, and that it can strengthen its knowledge in the implementation of insect protein manufacturing units.

Collaborating since early 2019, the two parties have just finalized the feasibility side of the scale-up of the insect producer’s operations. 

Agronutris is headquartered in the Southwest of France, near Toulouse, and currently employs 18 people, experts in entomology and specialists from agro-industry. It was set-up in 2011, originally named Micronutris. Following a strategic decision to focus on feed, it was renamed Agronutris. 

BSF based production

At its pilot scale unit in Saint-Orens-de-Gameville, the company has conducted research on up to nine insect species, rearing three of them to a significant scale including crickets, Gryllodes sigillatus​, mealworm, Tenebrio molitor​, and the Black Soldier Fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens​.

“After a comparative analysis, we came to the conclusion that BSF was the most relevant matrix for a feed strategy,”​ said Berrada.

The decision to focus on BSF was down to the species’ ability to feed on a wide spectrum of byproducts and also its fast-growing cycle. 

The company said it has acquired a significant level of expertise around the biological - mating, egg laying, hatching, larval growth, metamorphosis - and technical rearing conditions - temperature, hygrometry, density, air treatment - related to BSF.

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