The degradation of our planet has reached the point where it has become very profitable to go out and fix the problem. A pioneer in the fast-growing waste-to-nutrient recycling industry, AgriProtein is building a multi-billion dollar business by finding a better way to feed the world.
Mission: find a better way to feed the world
- Solve the food security challenge: Population growth means we are running out of the resources needed to feed the animals we rely on for food. Increasing demand for poultry, pig-meat and fish means demand for fishmeal will outpace supply by 2020 and there will be a 5.1 million tonne shortfall by 2024. By replacing fish and soybean protein with insect protein in animal feed, we free up all of our oceans and more of our farmland to feed humans.
- Tackle the waste crisis: The consumer society has led to a global waste management crisis, with 40% of all food produced in the US going uneaten. Of the 1.3 billion tonnes of global waste generated every year, 600 million tonnes (nearly half) is organic, rising to one billion tonnes by 2025. By up-cycling this waste into high-protein animal feed we reduce the volume, pollution and cost of landfill.
- Repair the environment: Trawling the ocean floor for fishmeal is one of the most destructive activities on the planet. By replacing fishmeal with insect meal in animal feed we allow the oceans to heal and reduce greenhouse gases at every stage of the chain from point-of-catch to point-of-sale.
Insect meal: Used in the aquaculture, farming, animal feed and pet food industries, insect meal is a safe, natural, cost-effective alternative to fishmeal and a higher protein alternative to soybean meal for all non-ruminants: fish, pigs, poultry and pets. It will never run out as long as humans produce waste. Unlike houseflies, the black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) that AgriProtein uses avoid human habitations and are not considered a pest.
Products: Bred on an industrial scale, fly larvae are processed to produce MagMeal™ (55% protein, 100% sustainable natural organic animal feed) and MagOil™ (versatile, natural, omega-rich oil for use in feeds). The by-product MagSoil is a high-quality compost for use in farming and horticulture. Using an armada of 8.5 billion flies, a standard fly-farm will take in 250 tonnes of organic waste per day and produce nearly 5,000 tonnes of MagMeal™ and 2,000 tonnes of MagOil™ per year.
History: AgriProtein was founded in 2008 by brothers Jason and David Drew. The product was developed, trialled and proven ‘in the lab’ between 2008 and 2010, but AgriProtein had to demonstrate it could manufacture at volume. The break-through came in 2011, with output at its demonstration plant achieving 100Kg per day. With price per tonne a key determinant in the fight against fishmeal, the next challenge was to further increase scale while reducing costs to make the product commercially competitive. This was achieved in 2015 in AgriProtein’s first 9,000 sqm fly-farm in Cape Town. The company has allocated several international licences to use its technology, most recently in Australasia to its partner Twynam Group (20 licences). In November 2016 the company raised USD 17.5 million for further expansion, valuing it at USD 117 million and making it the most valuable fly-farming business in the world.
Awards: Two research grants from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2011 and 2012; Guardian People Environment Achievement (PEA) Award winner 2013; Department of Trade and Industry Technology Innovation Grant 2014; World Wildlife Fund Climate Solver 2014; Winner, UN-sponsored Innovation Award for Africa 2014; KPMG & Alliance for Green Revolution Award 2016; Winner, Blue Economy Challenge 2016; Shortlisted contestant for F3 (Fish Free Feed Challenge) Awards 2017; Winner, Global Cleantech 100 2017.
Research partners: University of Stellenbosch, SA; University of Swaziland; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; University of Alicante, Spain; Rhodes University, SA; BOKU, Austria; Montan University, Austria.
Strategic partners: Christof Industries, Austria (Engineering); Twynam Group, Australia (Agriculture).