New in­sect farm, a wave of the fu­ture, will open near Balzac

Com­pany says ed­i­ble bugs are ‘the fu­ture of food, not just feed’

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - AMANDA STEPHENSON astephen­[email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/Aman­daMsteph

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”

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