Carrie Kuball, VP for Sales and Marketing with EnviroFlight®, tells us about the sustainable and nutritious Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) and how EnviroFlight® has launched the first commercial facility of its kind for the manufacture of animal feed and pet food.
EnviroFlight® was founded in 2009 in Yellow Springs, OH. We opened the very first commercial BSFL facility in the United States in 2019, located in Maysville, KY. BSFL ingredients for animal feed have been growing in popularity ever since.
BSFL grow very quickly compared to other insects and they thrive on a variety of feed inputs. Larvae will be processed into high quality ingredients in 20 days or less and can be farmed in trays stacked vertically, so we can produce many more pounds of protein on a small footprint of land compared to that of traditionally grown protein and fat sources.
Our mission is to feed the growing population efficiently and sustainably.
We do this by feeding pre-consumer food waste to BSFL. This, in turn, produces more high-quality protein and lauric acid-rich fat, on a smaller plot of land and at a quick turnaround, allowing for multiple “crop” cycles per year.
What we’re encouraging is the addition of sustainable alternative proteins and sustainably sourced lauric acid-rich fats. Plants alone won’t feed the growing population, but animal proteins alone won’t feed everyone either.
There needs to be a balance of both traditionally farmed and raised plants and animals, and new innovative methods.
Farming of BSFL is sustainable. We feed the larvae a variety of ingredients that are approved as feed ingredients in other species, but the larvae are extremely efficient at turning these low protein, low fat ingredients into something much more valuable for the animal.
The BSFL ingredients produced are used to provide a quality protein source, and a quality energy source for a variety of species. The leftover feed and waste from the BSFL can also be turned back into a feed ingredient for other animals, with a higher digestibility rate.
Our biggest challenges are not unexpected ones – regulatory approvals and optimization of mass rearing systems. In both cases, we’ve invested significantly. In terms of regulatory approvals, our R&D efforts have demonstrated safety and efficacy for regulatory approval by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials), as well as the value of our ingredients in animal feeding applications.
In terms of mass rearing optimization, our engineering, animal biology and operations teams have worked tirelessly to create systems that can efficiently and effectively grow and process larvae at commercial scale.
EnviroBug™ – Whole dried BSFL larvae. This is typically fed as is to backyard chickens, fish, and exotic pets. This ingredient is a favorite amongst chicken owners, providing a natural feeding item for the birds as well as quality protein and fat. Compared to other insects, it has a higher calcium level, ideal for egg-laying animals.
EnviroMeal™ – The whole dried larvae are pressed to extract the oil or fat, like canola or soybean meal. The rest is ground into a powder form consisting of higher protein and lower fat compared to the EnviroBug™ product. This ingredient is typically used in feed manufacturing of pellets or extruded kibble. Backyard chicken diets, pet food, aquaculture, and swine diets are a common place for EnviroMeal™ to be used.
EnviroOil™ – The oil or fat extracted from the whole dried larvae. This ingredient is high in lauric acid, comparable to coconut oil or palm kernel oil, but sourced sustainably here in the USA.
EnviroFrass/EnviroFeed™ – This ingredient is the leftover feed, sheddings, and waste from the larvae. It can be used as a feed ingredient with similar digestibility to that of corn, providing additional benefits from the sheddings contained in the frass. As a fertilizer, EnviroFrass™ can be a regenerative source of nutrition for plants, grass, turf, gardens, vineyards, and fruit trees without using any chemical fertilizers.
Currently most of our clients are located in North, Central, and South America. They’re interested in using BSFL as a sustainable ingredient source for their pet foods as well as commercial agriculture feeds.
It’s a very interesting time for EnviroFlight®. We’re opening a brand new R&D and corporate facility in Raleigh, NC and will be expanding our research efforts into BSFL genetics, nutrition, reproductive physiology and immunology.
Our continued investment in collaborative research with academic and industry partners enables us to fully understand how BSFL can help shape the future of animal feed and human food.