German startup FarmInsect, who wants to revolutionize animal agriculture with insects, has snapped up a six-figure seed financing round. It’ll use the funds to accelerate its mission and set up its first pilot plant at one of the largest aquaculture farms in Bavaria.
FarmInsect, founded in 2019, is an agritech startup from Munich that is working on a solution for farmers to produce insect larvae from regional residues. Currently soy and fish meal are the most important protein feeds in the animal meat industry, but over 90% must be imported from outside Europe, meaning that animal farmers are dependent on world market feed prices, which have doubled in the past 10 years.
Insects have been permitted in the EU as feed for farm animals since 2017, meaning that a real regional circular economy is possible for the production of protein feed within the EU. FarmInsect’s solution can save farmers up to 20% of their feed costs, and allow them to become independent of the world market.
“Every year, billions of tons of food and crop residues are discarded in the EU. We want to tap this potential.” explains FarmInsect founder Thomas Kühn.
So far, six species of insects have been authorized as animal feed in the EU since 2017. FarmInsect specializes in the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia Illucens). The larvae of the Black Soldier Fly can process a wide range of feeds and is therefore ideal for sustainable production.
It takes about a week for a batch of fly larvae to mature. The larvae can then be fed directly to farm animals or dried for storage. In addition to the larvae, the process also produces high-quality compost, which helps farmers to improve their soil quality.
It’s also worth mentioning that when using regional residues as feed, complete traceability is a challenge. For this reason, the startup has also developed an IT platform that relieves the farmer of this process. The IT platform is connected to a variety of sensors and guides the farmer through the entire insect production process. FarmInsect offers farmers an automated machine system for insect production. Farmers, therefore, do not need any previous knowledge of insect rearing.
Prof. Windisch, from the Chair of Animal Nutrition at the Technical University of Munich, shares this view: “The circular economy of agricultural biomass is the key to environmentally friendly and resource- efficient agriculture. Insects, in particular, help us to close regional cycles that would be difficult to reach with conventional farm animals. Insects produce high-quality protein for use as animal feed and food.”