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Taking black soldier fly larvae production to ‘a new level’

Feed Strategy asked EnviroFlight President Liz Koutsos about her company and the future of insect production for the animal feed industry.

Liz-Koutsos
Courtesy EnviroFlight

President of EnviroFlight discusses the future of her company and the industry

EnviroFlight produces black soldier fly (BSF) larvae for animal feed at its production facility in Maysville, Kentucky. The facility, which opened in December 2018, is the first of its kind in the United States.

The company started as a joint venture formed by Intrexon Corp. and Darling Ingredients Inc. This month, Darling Ingredients acquired the 50% joint venture interest of EnviroFlight that was owned by Intrexon Corp., thereby increasing its ownership interest in EnviroFlight to 100%.

Feed Strategy asked EnviroFlight President Liz Koutsos what this acquisition means for her company and the future of insect production for the animal feed industry, among other things.

 

Feed Strategy: How does the acquisition by Darling Ingredients affect the future of EnviroFlight?

Koutsos: Darling Ingredients has been an exceptional supporter in the launch and growth of EnviroFlight. They have been involved in this business since 2013 and are ready to take commercial BSFL production in the U.S. to a new level.

Darling is the foremost reclaimer and processor of bio-sustainable feedstocks, repurposing typically inedible ingredients into usable specialty feed and food solutions. Darling’s operational expertise in this area, combined with EnviroFlight’s innovative approach employing BSF larvae will be leveraged to standardize processes for creating and optimizing BSFL-based feed.

The BSFL market in the U.S. is on a rapid rise, with new species being added to the AAFCO ingredient definition, and promising research being published by the EnviroFlight R&D team as well as colleagues at various universities using our products in their own trials.

 

Feed Strategy: What opportunities does the company have now that it may not have had before the acquisition?

Koutsos: Darling Ingredients understands the importance of developing sustainable protein and energy sources for animal feed. With their years of experience developing sustainable feed ingredients, developing new manufacturing techniques, and leading the growth of these new markets, Darling Ingredients will be an invaluable resource in the development of the BSFL market.

 

Feed Strategy: What is the company’s current production volume, and how much will future expansion increase that? Do you plan on expanding into other species of insects?

Koutsos: Our commercial facility officially opened Q4 of 2018 and we’ve steadily increased production at this facility since that time. We built the Maysville, Kentucky, plant with a modular approach, giving us the ability to make changes as we launch the various phases of development.

At the current time, we are focused on the growth and production of BSFL, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t entertain the idea of working with growers of other insect species to produce a variety of insect-based products in the future.

 

Feed Strategy: Where do we stand in the U.S. on regulatory approval for insect ingredients, and what is on the horizon?

Koutsos: Regulatory approval continues to expand as more and more species are added to the AAFCO definition for BSFL products, as a result of significant investment in research trials to prove safety and effectiveness of these ingredients. EnviroFlight is paving the path forward for these approvals; we believe this is our responsibility as leaders of this industry. The use of BSFL presents a tremendous opportunity for our environment, our world population and the animals we feed.

 

Feed Strategy: What, if any, barriers have you experienced in entering the animal feed market?

Koutsos: Time and cost to do the research and gain approval has been the biggest barrier. There is extreme interest in the marketplace for sustainable protein and energy sources.

 

Feed Strategy: What do you think 2020 holds for the insect ingredient market?

Koutsos: Agriculture is facing a real challenge with an increasing global population, changing climates and less land available to produce more crops and animals to feed the world. We believe BSFL will contribute significantly to animal and plant agriculture as a feed ingredient and fertilizer. As the world population continues to grow, the benefit and opportunity to produce millions of pounds of protein on a single acre of land in any given year is substantial. 2020 will be a year of continued research and regulatory approvals as well as growth in production of insect ingredients and marketplace presence.

 

Feed Strategy: Where do you see your company and the insect ingredient sector in 5-10 years?

Koutsos: EnviroFlight will not only focus on increasing production of BSFL ingredients, but put forth substantial efforts in research and development in all aspects of BSFL, including our genetics program, increasing efficiencies of commercial production, and continued efforts on the application of BSFL products as feed ingredients.

As regulatory approvals continue to be achieved, we anticipate much larger market opportunities for BSFL in the future. We are proud to be able to provide these ingredients in the North American markets and reduce the environmental impacts of transporting ingredients around the world. Finally, we know that the standards established for the production of safe, quality ingredients, along with manufacturing standards in the U.S., are among the most stringent in the world, affording our customers peace of mind when they choose EnviroFlight BSFL products.

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