He promised large-scale feed production of locusts “from day one.” Now it is uncertain whether anything will be produced at all

Aslak Berge

No take off for grasshopper salmon feed start-up.

Last Wednesday, SalmonBusiness reported that Salmon Group (made up of 44 Norwegian salmon farming companies) had scrapped its deal with Metapod, the start-up that said it would produce feed from raw materials such as from grasshoppers. It turned out that the industrial volume on which the agreement was built could not be done.

However, the agreement, made last summer, received widespread media coverage. And it wasn’t lacking in big claims.

Large scale from day one
“There are no companies in the industry of Norwegian salmon farming that have introduced insect flour from grasshoppers as an ingredient in the feed. It is very exciting that an innovative and forward-thinking grouping such as Salmon Group, which represents such a large share of the production volume in Norway, invests in this. For us, this means that we can start large-scale production from day one and develop the concept further,” promised then 29-year-old Metopod founder Frederick Darien when the agreement was signed.

A few weeks later, SalmonBusiness was able to reveal that Metapod did not have permission to use grasshoppers as a source of protein in salmon feed. According to a regulatory amendment in the EU, crickets were allowed to be farmed for use as feed, while grasshoppers were not.

Then feed expert Sunny Z. Akhter wrote an op-ed on SalmonBusiness, stating, among other things, that, “the high level of chitin in locusts does not make them a good candidate for alternative protein ingredients. The costs will be too high.”

Darien declined to comment on the criticism from Akhter.

Photo: Metapod

A year later, Salmon Group walked away.

In a brief press release, issued in the afternoon before Christ’s Ascension Day, it stated that Metapod had “informed Salmon Group that they cannot meet the conditions of the contract. The parties have thus agreed that the cooperation agreement Metapod entered into with Salmon Group ceases.”

Entrepreneur Frederick Darien, who was very involved in the signing of the agreement a year ago, is not particularly talkative now. He referred to Salmon Group and acting CEO Sveinung Henden when the news site Dagens Næringsliv (DN) contacted him at the weekend. Henden also declined to comment on the case.

Espen Digernes is an investor, CEO of the Toyota dealership Bragenes Bilforretning and Metapod chairman. When asked by DN if there will be any production, he replied: “It remains to be seen. A lot is undetermined”.

Metapod has not published its accounts for 2020. In 2019, the company had a turnover of EUR 16,000.


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