Maggot farming venture wins global food award

Twynam maggot farming partnership wins global food chain gong


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Soldier fly larvae, about to be dried and processed as stockfeed.

Soldier fly larvae, about to be dried and processed as stockfeed.

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AgriProtien's fly farms, fed with food waste, have won the BBC Food Chain Global Champion title

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South African  maggot farmer, AgriProtein, has won fresh acclaim in the quest for a new source of stockfeed meal.

The waste-to-nutrient pioneer, which has plans to build its first Australian “farm” in NSW in partnership with the local Twynam Agriculture Group, has been named by the British Broadcasting Corporation as a BBC Food Chain Global Champion.

The award recognised AgriProtein’s flagship product as helping secure the future of food while also delivering significant environmental benefits.

AgriProtein uses food waste to feed black soldier fly larvae (maggots),  which in turn become the company’s MagMeal protein substitute for fishmeal.

Fishmeal is widely used to feed aquaculture stock, and also as a pet food and in other intensive livestock production areas.

AgriProtein has fly farm projects under development in the UK, the US, South Africa, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

It has awarded several international licences to use its technology, most recently to Twynam for Australasia.

Twynam Agricultural Group, better known for its big pastoral holdings and irrigated cropping in NSW, has also been been one of  AgriProtein’s earliest and largest individual shareholders with an interest in growing maggots which began four years ago. 

Raising flies on food waste is just brilliant, because nothing need go to waste anymore - Pierre Thiam, New York chef and awards judge

AgriProtein’s MagMeal market plans will initially focus on servicing the $100 billion aquaculture feed sector, then poultry, pigs and pet food.

Using a factory roll-out model developed with global engineering firm, Christof Industries, the company can deliver fly farms on a turnkey basis anywhere in the world, potentially at the rate of up to 25 factories annually.

Black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens), which tend not to be considered a pest because they avoid human habitat areas, will be bred in special escape-proof sheds on an industrial scale in Australia.

They produce the 55 per cent protein organic feed product, MagMeal, plus MagOil (an omega-rich oil for use in stockfeeds), while a compost by-product from the farms, MagSoil can be used on cropping and pasture soils, particularly horticulture.

Dried soldier fly larvae.

Dried soldier fly larvae.

About 8.5 billion flies in a standard fly-farm will feed on 250 tonnes of organic waste a day and produce nearly 5000 tonnes of MagMeal and 2000 tonnes of MagOil a year.

The food chain champion title was awarded as part of the 2017 BBC Food and Farming Awards.

It recognises work which challenges established methods and practices to secure the future.

“The culture of food, the science, technology, politics and business associated with food are key concerns to our worldwide audience,” said BBC World Service senior commissioning editor, Steve Titherington.

“Our award  highlights both the challenges and fascinating successes being created by individuals around the world.”

New York-based chef, restaurateur and author, Pierre Thiam, described insects as the protein of the future.

“It's great to see AgriProtein already doing it for animal feed,” he said.

“Raising flies on food waste is just brilliant, because nothing need go to waste anymore.

AgriProtein founder, Jason Drew.

AgriProtein founder, Jason Drew.

“This so-called waste is feeding the animals that will feed the world."

Mr Thiam was part of an independent panel of award judges, chaired by food writer, Madhur Jaffrey, which also included representatives from the food policy research sector and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation

AgriProtein co-founder and chief executive officer, Jason Drew, described insect protein as an idea whose time had come and was now produced on an industrial scale.

“This award is a vote of confidence in the waste-to-nutrient industry,” he said.

“Trawling for fishmeal is one of the most destructive activities on the planet.

“Replacing it in animal feed is good news for the environment and means more of the world’s dwindling population of wild fish can be harvested sustainably for human consumption.

“By using existing waste to rear fly larvae, we’re reducing the greenhouse gases and pollution caused by organic landfill.”

New EU regulations permited use of insect-based nutrients in aquafeed, while other geographies already permit its wider use in agriculture and petfood.

AgriProtein recently announced plans to move to a London headquarters.

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