Bühler and Protix have founded the joint venture Bühler Insect Technology Solutions. This joint venture will develop scalable, industrial solutions for the rearing, and processing of insects to provide protein primarily for animal feed and food.
Bühler Insect Technology Solutions is located in China and has already begun operations. “By combining the knowledge and experience of our two companies, we can provide industrial insect processing solutions to address the alternative protein market,” explains Ian Roberts, CTO of Bühler. “Together, we can develop both sustainable and cost effective solutions for large scale insect producers and processors that cover the whole value chain,” adds Kees Aarts, CEO of Protix.
One of the most promising sources to generate protein sustainably and with a low footprint is insects. Fly larvae or mealworms, for instance, are easy to breed and can be fed with organic waste. They are remarkably efficient at converting feed into protein and require little space to cultivate.
Because of these advantages, insects have attracted considerable attention from start-ups and established players in the food industry in recent years. Protix was founded in 2009 in the Netherlands. In just a few years, thanks to its dedicated team of highly skilled professionals, the company developed proprietary equipment and solutions gaining extensive operational expertise not only in the breeding and rearing cycle, but also in separating and extracting proteins and lipids from insects. With a pilot plant, it processes 1,600 tonnes of insect larvae per year and produces high quality, insect-based ingredients. The company was recognized as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in 2015.
“Protix is the most advanced insect company that has demonstrated industrial-scale production in a way that is scalable and multipliable. They have proven how to create a market in insect protein,” explains Roberts. Now they are ready to take the company to the next level and need a partner who understands the requirements of large, industrial processors. This is where Bühler steps in. “Bühler has a strong, established business providing technologies for animal feed, and protein from the insects can be used in pellets, or directly as animal feed. With our global market access, technology base, and engineering capabilities, combined with the deep knowledge, experience and entrepreneurial flair of Protix, we have the ingredients for a successful commercial partnership,” Roberts says.
Bühler Insect Technologies is located in Liyang, China. The goal of the joint venture is to develop industrial scale solutions for feedstock processing, larvae rearing and larvae processing, and to produce high-quality insect ingredients – covering the whole value chain from rearing to separation and extraction of proteins and lipids. Initially, the focus will be on larvae of the Black Soldier Fly. Subsequently there will be a diversification to other insects, such as mealworms. The insect proteins will be used primarily for the production of sustainable animal feed, for example in aquaculture, which is the fastest growing agricultural segment in the world.