New insect farm, a wave of the future, will open near Balzac
Company says edible bugs are ‘the future of food, not just feed’
The billions of squirming, wriggling larvae that will inhabit a new $30-million warehouse facility near Balzac represent the future of farming, according to a B.C.-based insect production company that is set to expand into Alberta early next year.
“We’re revolutionizing a new kind of agriculture,” said Victoria Leung, spokeswoman for Enterra Feed Corporation. “Our livestock are insects.”
Enterra — a privately held company specializing in the development and manufacture of sustainable insect-based feed ingredients for the fish, poultry and pet food industries — announced Thursday it has completed a major global funding round that will allow it to go ahead with the construction of three North American production facilities, including one near Balzac. The company already has a production facility in Langley, B.C.
Inside its 180,000-square-foot Balzac facility, Enterra will be raising black soldier fly larvae, an insect with a high protein and fat content that can be processed into animal feed.
The company boasts its larvae production process is completely sustainable, because the insects are fed with food waste that would otherwise be headed to landfills or compost operations.
Leung said sales of Enterra products have tripled annually since the Langley facility opened in 2014, and the company is projecting continued growth as feed producers look for sustainable replacements for such resource-intensive inputs as fish meal, soybean meal, coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
“We have seen people really accept it with open arms, because they are looking for new proteins to feed their animals,” Leung said. “Insects just fit the bill perfectly. We don’t need arable land to grow our insects. We can grow them in a warehouse facility, we can stack them vertically.”
Enterra — which sells whole dried larvae, as well as a ground meal product and an oil that can be mixed with other ingredients to produce a variety of animal feeds — is the first company to receive regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Canada for its insect ingredients. Leung said the company has global expansion plans, and believes that insect agriculture will be an important part of feeding a hungry planet in the decades to come.
“We believe insects are the future of food, not just feed,” she said. “We’re not really going to have much choice. We’re running out of resources on this planet but we’re still increasing the population, and we have to feed all those people.”
Asked if there is an “ick factor” that affects perception of insect agriculture, Leung said Enterra customers don’t appear to be bothered.
“We all pay more for free-range chicken and free-range chicken eggs. Those chickens are foraging for insects in the wild — it’s what they naturally eat,” she said.
“So it’s nothing that strange, it’s
We’re revolutionizing a new kind of agriculture. Our livestock are insects.
actually very natural.”
Construction on Enterra’s Balzac facility is expected to begin right away. The facility will employ approximately 30 people when it opens in 2019.
In 2013, the United Nations issued a report urging increased consumption of insects as a food source for humans and animals. According to the report, in 2011, combined world animal feed production was estimated at 870 million tonnes. The UN estimated that production will have to increase by 70 per cent to be able to feed the world in 2050, with meat outputs (poultry, pork and beef ) expected to double.
Enterra plans to raise black soldier fly larvae, which have a high protein and fat content that can be processed into animal feed.
“We don’t need arable land to grow our insects,” says Enterra spokeswoman Victoria Leung. “We can grow them in a warehouse facility”