An insect farm might conjure images of fields, barns, and muddy boots, not a fully automated, high-tech facility in a commercial warehouse on an industrial estate. Only the name, "Protix," gives away the nature of this facility in the town of Bergen op Zoom in the south of the Netherlands, where the insect company has operated since 2019.
This 15,000-square-meter warehouse is the world's largest black soldier fly farm. Demand for edible insects — and facilities like these — is on the rise. At the moment, around 80% of Protix's production is used for pet food, with the rest used for aquafeed and poultry feed.
This is set to change as fish, poultry, and pig farmers seek alternative sources of protein to fishmeal and soy. Insect protein in poultry and pig feed was approved last year by the EU, which also greenlighted house cricket, yellow mealworm, and migratory locusts for human consumption. Protix is preparing to announce 10 new locations as it expands in Europe and North America.
Its facilities are the culmination of a decade of intense R&D and the conviction that insect protein could improve the environmental footprint of our food. This plant has produced 15,000 tons of live larvae per year for the last two years; that's 10,000 tons of protein per hectare per year. Soy, in comparison, produces just one ton of protein per hectare per year.
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