FreezeM and Hermetia look to optimize insect protein production through neonate supply

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Jonathan Kitchen
© GettyImages/Jonathan Kitchen

Related tags neonates black soldier fly Hermetia Insect Protein

FreezeM is partnering with Hermetia for co-production and distribution of suspended BSF neonates throughout Europe.

Isarel's FreezeM Cryogenics Ltd and Germany’s Hermetia Baruth GmbH have set up a strategic alliance for the joint production and distribution of PauseM - ready-to-use packages of suspended Black Soldier Fly (BSF) neonates.

The packages comprise 50,000 neonates, with extended shelf-life of 14 days and over 90% survival rate, said the partners.

“The synergy between Hermetia and FreezeM enables us to create new opportunities for existing and new BSF protein producers that will enhance the entire industry and support it in producing insect protein in a scalable and consistent manner,”​ Dr Yuval Gilad, FreezeM CEO, told FeedNavigator.

Insect industry pioneer, Hermetia, is responsible for the breeding and the production of commercial scale quantities of neonates, while FreezeM, which was founded in 2017 by 3 PhDs from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and is specialized in insect biology and genetics, will look after post-breeding activities – quality control, counting and dosing of the neonates - along with induction of suspended animation for extended neonate shelf-life and European-wide distribution.

“The neonates are precisely counted, and fully synchronized – making the rearing process very efficient and easy for the customer. Clients get exactly the number of neonates they order, they can stock them in their facility and use them according to their production requirements,”​ said Gilad.

An alternative to in-house breeding

The packages are targeted at any scale of insect producer, from existing players to new ones, and even startups that are at the product development stage, said the CEO.

“Currently, producers need excessive amounts of eggs to mitigate daily fluctuation, decreases in breeding production levels, or colony collapses. These players can replace a portion of their breeding [stock] with PauseM packages and thus ensure stable production. When establishing new sites, they can rely on our supply as a main breeding source, and save on Capex and Opex and [eliminate some of the] technological challenges associated with setting up a new reproduction unit at each site.

“We lower the barriers to entry for new players who don’t have the knowledge and resources for setting up their own breeding [system]."

Thus, new producers, he continued, can set up a pilot or a commercial scale production facility, buying the equipment needed directly from engineering companies supplying the market, and they can start producing immediately. "This is relevant for waste management companies looking to enter the field, rendering companies, food retailers etc. These players can focus on making the rearing and processing steps more efficient while increasing their competitive edge and profitability.”

In addition, startups that develop insect-based products can avoid the hassle of maintaining an expensive colony and reach the market faster with less capital investment, said Gilad.

Planned output

During the initial stage of the Hermetia-FreezeM alliance, the partners will produce 1,500 PauseM packages per day, he explained. 

“Each package contains 50,000 high-quality suspended BSF neonates with expended shelf-life of 14 days. The production capacity will further increase to 4,500 packages a day during 2023. This capacity can support the production of 15-45 tons of grown larvae/day at the customers sites.”

Fast growth

Just recently, FreezeM concluded a two-year joint R&D project called RECIPE, which was carried out in collaboration with the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) and Bühler, in which the technological and economic feasibility of the suspended animation technology was validated.

One of the conclusions was that the supply of suspended neonates is superior to other options such as eggs and five-day old larvae (5DOL), said the CEO.

A very important feature of the PauseM product is that, upon the activation of the neonates, they grow faster compared to non-suspended ones, saving between 1-2 days in the rearing process. This means, that in a given facility, without changing the hardware, one can increase the production capacity by 10-20% just by replacing in-house breeding with PauseM."

Market demand

The market demand for such a service is enormous, he claimed.

“We expect the demand to grow dramatically after we prove our product at scale, since customers will be able to see its true value in their own production environments. We see a decoupled model as the most scalable and sustainable future for the insect farming industry.”

In terms of commercial development, the CEO said the companies are currently renovating Hermetia’s facility in Baruth/Mark, Germany and installing FreezeM’s system to enable the generation of ready-to-use packages. Production is planned to begin before the end of the year.

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