Layers of squirming black soldier fly larvae fill large aluminum bins stacked 10-high in a warehouse outside of Vancouver. They are feeding on stale bread, rotting mangoes, overripe cantaloupe, and squishy zucchini.
But this is no garbage dump. It’s a farm.
Enterra Feed, one of an emerging crop of insect growers, will process the bugs into protein-rich food for fish, poultry—even pets. After being fattened up, the fly larvae will be roasted, dried, and bagged or pressed to extract oils, then milled into a brown powder that smells like roasted peanuts.
The small but growing insect farming sector has captured attention and investments from some heavyweights in the $400 billion-a-year animal feed business, including U.S. agricultural powerhouse Cargill Inc., feed supplier and farm products and services company Wilbur-Ellis Co. and Swiss-based Buhler Group, which makes crop processing machinery.
Fast food giant McDonald’s is studying using insects for chicken feed to reduce reliance on soy protein.
“This pioneering work is currently at the proof-of-concept stage,” Nicola Robinson, McDonald’s Corp. sustainable supply chain manager, told Reuters. “We are encouraged by initial results and are committed to continuing to support further research.”