UK invests in insect farms, accelerating development of sustainable protein

23 Oct 2020

In its quest to promote sustainable agriculture, the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) provided London startup Entocycle £10 million ($12.9 million) for the construction of the country’s first large-scale industrial insect farm run on food waste.

In addition to government funding for this insect farm, Entocycle is partnering with two other insect companies, Better Origin and Beta Bugs, as well as the supermarket chain Tesco and Zero Waste Scotland on this project.

UK invests in insect farms, accelerating development of sustainable protein

Instead of the mealworms that are popular throughout the rest of Europe, the UK facility will focus on raising black soldier flies that Entocycle will feed with food waste in order to create a sustainable protein source for pet food and animal feed.

The facility will be able to process 33,000 tons of food waste annually. Mainly, the company uses fruit and vegetable refuse as well as spent brewer grains and coffee grounds from local shops to feed its flies.

Insects have transformed from a nuisance to a more mainstream source of protein over the last several years as concerns about the environmental impacts of pork, beef and poultry farms have prompted consumers to look for more environmentally friendly alternatives for protein. While plant-based protein has grown exponentially in popularity, insects belong to a niche category that is gaining recognition due to the ability to breed large numbers of insects in close quarters, thereby reducing the number of resources like water land and energy required to produce the animal-based protein.

By breeding flies for protein, Entocycle hopes to offer more food security to the UK through localizing the supply chain. “Through insects we can guarantee local supply chains – the early experience of Covid-19 has shown just how important this will be – while making significant reductions to CO2 emissions,” Keiran Whitaker, the company's founder said in a statement.

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