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Indian agritech start-up uses silkworms to create sustainable feed protein

Loopworm offers several sustainable insect protein products designed for animal and pet nutrition.

2 Lisa Selfie December 2020 Headshot
Loopworm uses silkworms to produce high-quality ingredients and supplements for the pet food and animal feed industries.
Loopworm uses silkworms to produce high-quality ingredients and supplements for the pet food and animal feed industries.

Loopworm, an agribiotechnology startup based in Bangalore, India, is upcycling food waste into protein-rich nutrients and value-added ingredients and hopes to help transform multiple sectors including animal feed and pet food.

The company was founded in 2019 by Ankit Alok Bagaria and Abhi Gawri. The two aim to solve India's food waste crisis, increase the incomes of smallholder farmers, and showcase the power of Indian biotechnology to address environmental challenges. Loopworm said it sees two highly adaptable insect species (silkworms and black soldier flies) as being central to a new way of thinking about protein and fat for  aquaculture, poultry and pets. In addition to being sustainable, its products are enriched with essentials that foster healthiness in all forms of lives, said Bagaria.

"Loopworm uses insects to produce high-quality ingredients and supplements for the pet food industry," Bagaria told Petfood Industry. "Insects are an upcoming sustainable bioresource and are an essential part of the diets of wild animals, and hence helps with multiple functional and health benefits for pets."

Loopworm uses fresh-leaf fed silkworms to produce multiple products. "We have a 65% insect protein concentrate, 50% insect protein concentrate, and 35% Omega 3 fatty acid containing oil," said Bagaria. "Our R&D team has also developed protein hydrolysates from multiple insect species as a pet food supplement."

Animal and pet nutrition products

Loopworm partners with insect producers while ensuring strict quality consistency to procure farmed insects. This ensures quick scalability needed to serve the growing demand for high-quality pet food ingredients, noted Bagaria.

"Insects require far lesser land, water and energy to grow and breed," he said. "Most species feed on organic biomass with little use. This makes insects much more sustainable as a novel bioresource, thus ensuring a low environmental impact."

Loopworm's flagship products, including LoopGrubs, LoopMeal, and LoopOil, are carefully crafted to deliver superior nutrition and functional benefits for aquaculture, poultry, and pet feed applications. These products not only offer a sustainable alternative but also contribute to the overall health and vitality of animals.

  • LoopGrubs are a highly sustainable and nutritious feed that are fed a 100% plant-based diet and are antibiotics-free. They have high-quality protein, a higher fat content and unique fatty acid profile. 
  • LoopMeal is a partially defatted insect protein concentrate or insect meal with less than 60% crude protein. It is rich in bioactive peptides promoting antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It's designed to be used as a functional ingredient in aqua, poultry and pet food formulations.
  • LoopOil is derived by purifying the crude oil extracted in the solvent free process of LoopMeal production. This product can be used as energy source, either mixed right into pet food or animal feed or used as a coating for enhanced palatability.

Functional benefits for companion animals

Insect proteins are known to have high-quality proteins, fats and bioactives which can benefit the health of companion animals, Bagaria told Petfood Industry.

"We have products with antidiabetic, antiobesity, antiaging, hypoallergenic, high palatability and digestibility properties," he said. "Our products are pesticide residue-free and antibiotics-free, the insects are fed on fresh leaves, and processed in a hygienic condition further to pack it in food grade packaging.

"With the help of our ingredients, we are promoting health benefits in pets while ensuring sustainability," he continued. "We have the detailed test reports and specifications of our products which certainly proves its proposition, and we are confident that our friends and experts in the pet nutrition space would definitely like to have these benefits in their products, enabling them to offer premium quality functional foods to serve the pet parents’ needs."

As it continues to grow, Loopworm said it is committed to fostering collaborations with feed manufacturers across industries. The company aims to build a community of trust, providing consistent, high-quality feed ingredients that enable its partners to rear healthier animals and happier pets.

'A long way to go'

In 2022, Loopworm announced it had successfully secured an investment of US$3.4 million from several investors, including Omnivore, Waterbridge, Titan Capital, Climate9ers and more. It set up its research and development in Bengaluru, and expects to partner with a large number of farmers in raising the insects.

In addition to the $3.4 million seed money, Bagaria noted the company has received grants from the Indian government as well as support through foundations, including Tata Trust and Gates Foundation via paid pilot opportunities.

"We have grown our team from five members to 50," Bagaria added. "We have a commercialized 6,000-metric-ton/year biomanufacturing facility in Bagalore which can process any dried insect into protein concentrates and fat oil. We are already serving the animal nutrition and pet food manufacturers in India."

Bagaria sees the entire potential of what insects can offer in the animal feed and pet food space as a sustainable protein solution and is excited about the future growth of the insect protein space.

"Since 2019, we have come far, but we still have a long way to go," he said.

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