nutriNews International had the opportunity to interview Breanna Modica about the use of BSF larvae in livestock diets and pet foods in North America.
BSFL production for livestock diets:North American market overview
Dr. Edgar Oviedo one of the technical directors of nutriNews International had the opportunity to interview Breanna Modica, whom is a part of the Innovation Team at Enviro Flight. During this exchange Bree talked to us about the use of BSF larvae in livestock diets, pet foods and gave us an overview of the current state of insect protein production in North America. Offering her considerations regarding the prospects of this rising market within the region.
nutrinews International (Dr. Oviedo): Hello Bree, thank you for being with us today. Could we start of by having you give us a brief overview of your background and about your current role at EnviroFlight?
Breanna Modica: Yeah sure. So I have a Bachelors and Masters degree in Animal Science from Cal Poly Slo, and, and I am currently working on my PhD in sustainability management, focusing on environmental impacts in animal feed and pet foods. Before EnviroFlight I worked as Nutritionist for specialty pet company doing formulations and handling R&D. Now at EnviroFlight I work in technical sales. Thus, I get to work both with the sales and R&D teams with who we run a lot of trials testing the safety and efficacy of our ingredients looking to turn that into something usable for the industry.
Breanna Modica: I think one of the big draws with Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) is the environmental impact aspect, and being able to lower the: climate change impact, water use, land use, for your protein ingredients by complementing what currently is being used with BSFL which has a very low environmental impact. I think that is quite a big draw, as well as the very high quality, high protein pyloric acid components that found in the BSFL.
Dr. Oviedo: How do these larvae compare to other insects ude for the same purpose?
Bree Modica: In the USA BSFL are the only commercially raised and produced insect for animal feed and pet food, so it is a little difficult to compare them to other insect species that have not made that jump form a pilot to commercial scale yet. Nonetheless, EnviroFLight focuses on BSFL specifically, because they are very safe for people to work with. They do not bite, they don’t sting, the flies are virtually silent, they don’t carry any zoonotic diseases. We can also feed them a variety of inputs, as they can take a lot of low-quality inputs and turn that into high quality nutrition on the end with the whole dry larvae meal and the oil that we produce. That is a major factor regarding sustainability impacts in the future, as we look for other by-products and other waste streams that can be fed to these insects. And then the yield is tremendous, especially for BSL compared to other insects. We can get a little over 70,000 pounds of protein per acre, vertically farming this species, compared to traditional ingredients.
Dr. Oviedo: Wow, that is a significant volume of product. Very interesting! On the other hand, what are some of the limitations regarding the type of feed that is currently authorized to be offered to these larvae as well as related to their housing conditions?
Bree Modica: In the USA we do feed AAFCO defined ingredients, so that is a little bit of a limitation. We do feed them like any other livestock production facility. We do feed them by-products, and lower quality ingredients that would typically not be going into other types of animal feed, or pet foods. And then we are able to turn that into something more high quality on the other end, but yet again we do have those limitations. Waste mitigation is also a limitation, as BSFL production has great potential to take different kinds of food waste, such as fruits, vegetables, and turn that into fertilizer, or potential feed components. However, there are bigger safety risks with that, and it is something that will have to be addressed if it is to become an industry. Meaning the waste mitigation component.
Dr. Oviedo: In relation to consumer preferences, what do you foresee as potential limitations regarding the perception that producers may have towards the possibility of feeding these insects to their animals? As they are already being used to some extent in aquaculture and some monogastric species.
Bree Modica: I actually think that there has been a perpetuation that people are highly resistant to feeding insect ingredients tot their pets or to eating meat products from an animal that was fed insects, but we have found that this is not the case. In fact we have seen that people are much more resistant to eating insects themselves which is understandable in the western cultures, but in terms of feeding them to animals people are much more open to this idea, which I think is great.
Dr. Oviedo: That is interesting to hear. Another question that I wanted to ask you is regarding what limitation are there regarding the scalability of this type of production? One of the issues when you want to use a certain ingredient, is that you always want to have it available in sufficient amounts and with a similar quality in order to be able to include it in animal diets. What possibilities do you foresee to overcome such limitations?
Bree Modica: I think that the inclusion of insects as ingredients for the animal feed and pet food industries is still very new. Hence, in regards to scalability, one of the things that we have had to do at EnviroFLight is to design and redesign equipment. As there are no previous facilities nor equipment that have been designed or standardized for insect rearing and processing on a commercial scale. Therefore, as things move on, and equipment is developed more efficiently, I think scalability will be much more feasible for this type of production. One thing that we have focused on is gaining AAFCO definitions for BSFL ingredients in different animal species. So, our focus has been really R&D up until this point. Which is kind of a “catch 22”, as you cannot feed this ingredient to an animal without the regulatory confirmations behind it, but at the same time you must have enough amounts of that product available once you get those definitions. For us gaining those dentitions has been a priority, and we continue working on that.
You can watch the complete interview on our Youtube channel:
You may also be interested in reading: “Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) Larvae in Livestock Diets.”
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