Start up wants to produce grasshoppers for salmon feed, but these insects need food as well

Aslak Berge

Ambitious production plans for start-up company.

At the beginning of June, it was announced that Salmon Group entered into a supply deal with a start-up company called Metapod for the purchase of feed raw materials of grasshoppers.

The company so far does not produce any grasshoppers, and this insect species has so far not been used as an ingredient in salmon diets.

Metopod is now building a factory that will account for the production of grasshoppers. Like salmon, grasshoppers also need feed. But leftovers from bread and brewery production, as mentioned by the company in an earlier press release, are limited. Especially if one is going to produce volume that manner.

“A significant part of our development work has consisted of reaching the ideal diet for our organisms, in terms of growth, nutritional profile and well-being. Our insects get a complex diet of various plant substances adapted to their needs. We have many more options in the sources of wastage. Leftovers from bread and brewery production are far from the only sources we want to use, ” Fredrick Darien, CEO of Metapod, explained to SalmonBusiness.

“We keep track of the food waste produced in our region and calculate that this will be sufficient in the coming years,” added Darien.

“In Norway, around 390,000 tonnes of food waste is produced annually. Much of this is made use of, but far from everything is. In Ålesund, (Western Norway .ed) where we are located, for example, everything is burned by food waste.

“Therefore, we see no reason not to take advantage of this untapped resource here where we are located, as long as it is available. However, our sustainable production is not dependent on access to food waste,” he said.

Fredrick Darien. PHOTO: Metapod

“Grasshoppers and crickets are very effective at converting many different types of plant foods, which are otherwise of low quality for humans and other animals, into high-quality proteins. Therefore, insects require far less feed than conventional production animals, making them a very sustainable source of protein,” he continued.

How are you going to bring this food waste in? And how much is realistically commercially available to a start up like you? The feed raw material must be relatively fresh, not in decay, and EU approved.

Darien explained that they had an agreement with the country’s largest recycling operator Retura. It also has unconfirmed agreements from Norway’s largest private distributor of fruit and vegetables Bama. Same with Norway’s largest grocery wholesaler Asko and wholesaler Reitan Group.

The food waste we collect is relatively fresh and is considered edible (hence waste and not waste). All plant goods (of wastage) are EU-approved as feed. However, this does not apply to food waste, which we will not use,” he said.

“When will you be able to deliver the first grasshoppers feed raw material, and what volumes are we talking about?

“The first feed raw material will be delivered after the summer. We start at a low volume and then scale up gradually and knowledge-based. Initially, we aim to produce 10,000 tonnes, but hope to increase to 50-60,000 in the long term. The factory is under construction, and the first delivery to salmon group takes place over the summer,” said Darien.

How will this be financed?

“We are supported by Innovation Norway and have capital-strong investors on the team,” said 29-year-old Darien, who is the owner of Metapod.

In an opinion piece on SalmonBusiness, written by Sunny Z. Akhter, it emerged, among other things, that “the high chitin level in locusts does not make them a good candidate of alternative protein ingredients. The costs will be too high.”

Faced with this, Darien did not respond directly to the content of the piece.

“The development of new and alternative protein sources is essential for the industry’s growth, and to drive the production of salmon in a climate-friendly and ecologically sound way. It is therefore great that the spotlight is focused on alternative sources of protein, and that it creates engagement in the industry for restructuring. The world has a huge and growing need for nutritious food that is produced in a sensible way, and then it is great and necessary that many wise heads work for sustainable development,” he said.


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