LUTTEN, GERMANY — Feeding technology specialist WEDA Dammann & Westerkamp announced June 12 that it has partnered with Agroloop to develop an insect factory in Hungary. The facility, which is expected to be operational this fall, will provide the animal nutrition industries with insect feed protein and fat. 

According to WEDA, demand for animal proteins is estimated to increase about 100% by 2050, creating an even more volatile protein supply for animal nutrition markets. With this in mind, high-quality insect-based ingredients are increasingly being utilized in the pet food and animal feed industries. The insect feed market is expected to reach an annual turnover of €2 billion ($2.14 billion USD) by the end of 2030, producing 1 million tonnes of insect meal annually. 

To capitalize on this growing market, WEDA has partnered with Agroloop. The facility will focus on rearing black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) and will be located near the Budapest airport. Agroloop has invested more than €20 million ($21.4 million USD) in the factory, which will span 13,000 square meters (about 139,930 square feet). It will transform about 120 tonnes of raw materials per day into 6,000 tonnes of soil fertilizer, nearly 3,000 tonnes of feed protein, and more than 600 tonnes of feed fat, annually. 

Through the partnership, WEDA has developed the feed kitchen, in which liquid and dry byproducts from the food industry are processed into a feed mash for the BSFL. This includes three mixing tanks that create and mix the feed mash, which allow the insects to grow into full-grown larvae in a short period. 

“After the last construction phase, Agroloop can convert more than 40,000 tonnes of substrates per year — with the system producing in a two-shift process,” said Gerrit Niehues, product manager at WEDA.

According to WEDA, this system helps enhance Agroloop’s circular operation by converting feed-grade byproducts into high-quality feed and fat ingredients. This process, according to the companies, touts a lower environmental footprint compared to conventional feedstock production processes, requiring 30 times less land and 40 times less water, while also producing 40 times less carbon emissions. 

The feed kitchen comes with a clean-in-place (CIP) cleaning system for the feeding system. This, according to WEDA, guarantees hygienic conditions in the pipes and mixing and storage tanks. 

“With the cleaning concept, we prevent contamination and germ loads and guarantee that the quality of the feed is harmless to health,” Niehues said.

Additionally, the kitchen leverages conveyor technology from the agriculture industry to transport the substrates. The conveying system includes special controls that allow the feed components to be combined from various storage containers into tanks. The tanks provide insect producers with significant flexibility for which ingredients are included in the feedstock, and also allow the use of drier-than-average feed mixtures. 

“This enables Agroloop to produce the most cost-effective recipes depending on requirements and stock levels,” said Yannik Weinreis of WEDA’s Insect sales segment. “The WEDA tanks specially developed for mixing viscous materials are then used for the mixtures.”

WEDA’s feed kitchen also boasts a modular design, providing options for additional tanks to be easily integrated into the existing system. According to the company, this modular design helps insect producers, like Agroloop, with future expansion opportunities. 

With the use of WEDA’s feed kitchen, Agroloop is set to become a leading player in sustainable feed production within Central Europe, contributing to a more sustainable value chain. The company’s goal is to fuel positive changes in agriculture throughout the globe. 

“This significant investment promotes the expansion of the company’s production capacities and technological development,” said Rajmond Percze, co-founder and chief executive officer of Agroloop. “This will enable us to contribute even more intensively to the development of the domestic circular economy based on biomass.”

Read more about insect-based ingredients in the pet nutrition space.