Insect company secures £10 million in funding to construct feed farm

Entocycle has announced a £10m funding package from the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to help fund the construction of a large-scale industrial insect farm that would produce insects for animal feed.

The ambitious project will deliver a plant to rapidly convert food waste into insect-based animal feed for the aquaculture and pet food industries, reducing CO2 emissions related to the sourcing and production of traditional sources of protein and helping the UK improve its food and feed security in the future through more localised supply chains.

The project consortium involves a wide range of organisations including fellow UK insect companies Better Origin and Beta Bugs, and other organisations including The University of Warwick, Durham University, AB Agri, Fera Science, and Insect Technology Group UK, University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and Zero Waste Scotland.

Launched in 2017 by University of Manchester Environmental Design Masters graduate Keiran Whitaker, Entocycle makes insect-based ingredients for animal feed and the aquaculture and pet food industries. The use of black soldier fly larvae as a source of protein to feed animals has a far smaller environmental footprint than traditional sources such as meat, soy and fishmeal.

The company uses natural biological processes combined with proprietary technology to create sustainable products to feed animals, reducing the environmental impacts of traditional feed ingredients and enabling the restoration of natural ecosystems while improving food security through its localised production model. Alongside insect-protein, the biotech start-up also supplies lipids (insect oils) for use in feed and frass (insect’s excrement) as a natural fertiliser for the horticulture industry.

“The UK is making an ambitious commitment to becoming a leader in sustainable food production systems,” said Keiran Whitaker, founder of Entocycle. “Through the use of insects we can guarantee local supply chains – the early experience of Covid-19 has shown just how important this will be in the future – while making significant reductions to CO2 emissions caused by the production of traditional feed ingredients. The positive environmental impact could be huge, helping to support the UK’s transition to a net zero carbon economy and the restoration of our natural ecosystems.”

Katrina Hayter, challenge director of UKRI’s Transforming Food Production challenge said: “Our aim is to make the UK a global hub for black soldier fly farming. Successful development and scaling of this technology should lead to a significant boost in recycling of food waste and a reduction in emissions.”

“Tesco has been partnering with Entocycle since 2016 and we’re delighted they have secured this funding to take their innovative feed production to the next level,” said Laurence Webb, Responsible Sourcing Manager at Tesco. “Tesco recognises the significant potential of insect protein in making many of our supply chains more environmentally sustainable. The ability of insects to efficiently convert low-value waste streams into high-value protein suitable for animal feed means this could one day help to reduce the current reliance of animal agriculture and aquaculture on wild-caught fish and plant proteins such as soya.”

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