The startup, a spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, is collaborating with organic egg farm, Mäntymäen Luomutila, and feed company, Rehux, to feed laying hens its Black Soldier Fly (BSF) derived meal.
That site, based in Hyvinkää, about 50km north of the capital, Helsinki, is the first farm in Finland to use insect protein-based feed for organic laying hens.
"Our insect-based protein is already used in pet food. Now, in collaboration with Rehux, we can offer a climate-friendly option suitable for organic chickens as well," said Jarna Hyvönen, Volare’s chief operating officer (COO).
The insect meal currently requires an exception permit to be included in the feed for organic laying hens. "Since the insect meal is a conventional feed ingredient and not an organic one the inclusion rate has to be less than 5% and it can only be given to hens less than 30 weeks old," the COO told us.
Rehux serves many of the Finnish organic egg farms, so the potential is there for additional organic egg farms in Finland to use insect protein in their feed, noted Hyvönen.
The ingredient producer outlined how its protein production model adheres to the principles of the circular economy, minimizing waste by using food industry surplus like inedible grain components, vegetable trimmings, and by-products from beer brewing.
Food industry side streams are nearly limitless in scope, said Volare. “Current estimates put the amount of available raw material at some 90 million tons per year — in the EU alone.”
New factory on the horizon
In early 2023, the company announced a plan to build an industrial-scale facility in Järvenpää, Finland.
"We have a demonstration plant at Hyvinkää, Finland, where we test our processes and provide customers with insect ingredients for testing and selected launches. We are also working with customers in other segments, like pet food and aquafeeds.
"The construction of our first industrial scale plant will start this year. That will allow us to produce 5,000 tons of sustainable insect protein meal and oil yearly," said Hyvönen.
Volare's team claims the environmental impact of insect production is negligible compared to conventional protein and oil feed raw materials, producing only a fraction of the emissions of those other inputs.
Moreover, said Parviainen, the company has developed and patented a process to produce protein and oil from BSF larvae without a significant addition of water. "Because of this, the process takes substantially less energy than other similar methods and results in a 50% lower operating cost."
Beyond feed applications, Volare’s BSF derived products could be used in cosmetics, and oleochemical applications as well as in organic fertilizers.
“Our demonstration plant is fully operational, and already serves customers in aqua feed and pet foods businesses, providing ingredients for targeted product launches and industrial testing.”
This article was amended on June 26 from the original to include the comments from the company's COO.