Animal and plant nutrients company EnviroFlight has developed a system that turns the by-product from breweries, ethanol production, and pre-consumer food waste into a feedstock for Black Soldier Fly larvae — which then become feedstuff for fish, poultry, swine and cattle — according to a new segment released this week by QUEST, an Emmy Award-winning multimedia series with a new focus on exploring the science of sustainability.
Fueled by a demand for a healthy, nutrient-rich protein, the market for seafood has grown steadily over the past five decades. However, the small fish used to make fish meal are wild-caught, which is creating a growing threat of overfishing in the world’s oceans.
EnviroFit, based in Yellow Springs, Ohio, says larger carnivorous fish crave its “insect meal” the same way they do fish meal. The main difference is that the insect meal can be created in a more affordable and sustainable way than traditional fishing. In this way, the company is hitting two birds with one stone; reducing waste while creating a more sustainable way to raise seafood.
EnviroFit raises Black Soldier Flies, encouraging them to mate to produce the larvae, which feed off and bioconvert the material. By doing so, the frass — the waste product created by insects after digesting the feedstock — becomes a high-protein, low-fat feedstuff for carnivorous fish including rainbow trout, perch, bass and bluegill. See the segment below:
The larvae are then cooked, dried and converted into a meal that is 40 percent protein and 46 percent fat. The oils can be extracted, which boosts the protein content to above 70 percent. Enviroflight has developed and tested a number of feed formulations using insect meal and other locally available ingredients for complete diets for multiple species of fish.
The company says the key to its process is the prevention of ammonia creation in the frass by stabilizing the material immediately after the insect larvae consume the feedstock. This keeps the nitrogen fixed and eliminates odor, while also mitigating the formation of molds and mycotoxins. The frass also is beneficial as an animal-safe fertilizer.
Enviroflight's system is comprised of proprietary bioreactor, breeding and nursery systems, designed to be viable anywhere in the world and optimized for operation in developing nations. The breeding system is able to produce mating events and eggs in any climate due to the fact there is a continual source of eggs in all weather conditions.
“We have the technology that can solve two problems,” Glen Courtright, president and founder of EnviroFlight told QUEST. “We can solve a food problem, and we can solve a waste problem.”
The potential for insects as a more nutritious and sustainable source of protein isn't limited to animal feed — a handful of enterprising entrepreneurs are hard at work exploring the viability of insects for use in human food; though consumers in Western countries may find the idea hard to swallow.
In other seafood news, Food Lion, one of America’s largest supermarket chains with more than 1,100 stores across the eastern and southeastern US, recently announced the adoption of a sustainable seafood policy that will cover approximately 1,000 fresh, frozen, canned or packaged seafood products sold at its stores. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute will help Food Lion assess its suppliers.