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Insect protein for animals

Growing trillions of insects on an industrial scale might be the profession of nightmares for some, but it’s becoming a new area of growth in quality animal feed ingredients. Mealworms, which are beetle larvae, are commonly used for bird feeding. The bugs are expanding their menu options.

Virginia Emery is the CEO of Beta Hatch. She started the Seattle-based company in 2015, and it’s rapidly expanding to become the largest mealworm production facility for animal feed in North America. She says the insect-based proteins, oils and nutrients for poultry and aquaculture will meet the global scale demand for plant and animal nutrients.

"We are an ingredient manufacturer, so we are focused on selling our ingredients usually to feed blenders, distributors, folks that are using this as part of a complex and complete diet," says Emerry. "So, we are producing a high-protein, high-fat feed ingredient. Usually you would complement that with some other carbohydrates or other types of ingredients to get a balanced diet for the animals."

She says a range of markets will benefit from this alternative feed ingredient.

"We know that some of the highest value that we can deliver are in things like salmon production and in specialty poultry and organic poultry production, and hypoallergenic proteins for pet food. Those are some the areas that we know there’s the most value for our product."

Emery says while the company’s focus is producing mealworms for feed protein, they also sell the insect frass – which is bug poop – as fertilizer.