Bühler opens new insect production facility

UZWIL, SWITZERLAND – The Bühler Group has officially opened its Insect Technology Center (ITC) to support continued industry development for the food and feed markets, Bühler announced May 25.

In the ITC, Bühler and its customers can conduct larval growth trials with various raw materials, develop product samples, evaluate breed solutions and conduct training. The ITC, which obtained funding from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) due to its contribution to a more sustainable food system, is already operational.

The insect feed protein market is expected to reach half a million tonnes in 2030. By then, the pet food sector is expected to absorb 30% and aquaculture 40% of total insect protein volumes. Bühler is committed to achieving ambitious goals that will help mitigate climate change and build a more sustainable food system. Insects are a healthy and sustainable source of protein for food and feed. In addition, their excrement can be used as fertilizer, contributing to a circular economy production model.

“The opening of the Insect Technology Center is a major milestone in our journey,” said Andreas Baumann, Head of the Insect Technology Market Segment at Bühler. “Over the past few years, we have acquired expertise and maturity to serve different customers in the insect industry with the most adequate and reliable solutions. With our new installation, we extend our services and can support our customers even better in the installation of an industrial insect factory.

At the heart of the ITC are two insect growth chambers that can mimic industrial production conditions. These chambers have a sophisticated air conditioning system and are equipped with numerous sensors that give valuable information about the process.

Based on the collected data, the correct parameters and practices can be determined to ensure efficient insect production on an industrial scale. At ITC it is possible to work with the two most relevant insect species for industrial production, namely black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) and mealworms.

“A company that wants to build an industrial insect factory has to cover several operational aspects,” Baumann said. “These include finding the right feedstock to raise the larvae, making sure there is a strong and suitable strain of insects to grow, setting appropriate climatic parameters in relation to the growth cycle of the larvae or to obtain the emission data required for the authorization process.

All of these topics are critical to the success of an insect factory project and can be covered in Bühler’s new ITC. In addition to the services offered to customers, the Bühler team will carry out its own tests, striving to continuously improve technology and services for the insect market.

ITC aims to accelerate large-scale insect plant initiatives. By using the new test facility, customers may not need to invest in expensive pilot plants to demonstrate technological feasibility. Seeing industrial insect technology in action makes it tangible, allowing customers to directly envision commercially attractive plant sizes. As the insect growth chambers are mobile, they can be sent anywhere, making the infrastructure accessible to customers around the world.

“In combination with the exchange of operational know-how, we see huge potential to reduce the overall time from project idea to a performing plant,” Baumann said.

The Insect Technology Center can be visited during the Bühler Networking Days 2022.

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