Enterra Feed Corp. CEO Brad Marchant was on a fishing trip with David Suzuki when the two got to talking about how fish meal, a type of feed for animals, is leading to overfishing in South America.
That’s when Suzuki came up with the idea for an insect farm, where the flies would be bred to produce larvae that could act as a nutrient rich food to replace fishmeal.
That idea took flight years ago and last year, Enterra chose Langley to open a $7.5 million facility on 216 Street, making dried larvae feed for fish and poultry meal as well as organic fertilizer for local farmers.
“Insect farming has produced sustainable feed for animals and plants,” said Marchant who toured fish and agricultural farmers as well as politicians around the Langley plant earlier this month (Sept. 10).
“Our mission is to secure the world’s food supply,” said Enterra’s Victoria Leung.
Enterra’s products solve two major problems: food waste and nutrient shortage.
Traditional protein sources in animal feed include fishmeal and soybean meal, explained Leung.
Fishmeal is made up of small marine fish that are caught in the wild, an unsustainable practice that is being threatened by overfishing, she said.
“Soybean farms take a lot of land that should be used for crops. It also uses lots of water,” she said.
Keeping Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste rules, Enterra accepts pre-consumer organic waste from a variety of sources including farms, greenhouses and grocery stores — including Overwaitea Food Group and T&T Supermarket Inc. — all over the Lower Mainland.
Enterra breeds soldier flies and then feeds fruit and vegetable waste to the fly larvae.
The company sells the dried larvae to feed manufacturers, who include it in animal feed, mostly for chicken and farmed fish. It is also being put in pet food.
Enterra’s larvae is cheaper than the two most common feed additives, fish meal and soybean, mainly because they are the new guy on the block but also because it is much easier to produce larvae, said Leung.
The ‘docile soldier fly’ is bigger and thinner than our household fly but if the insect does escape into Langley’s skies, it is highly unlikely it could lay eggs, said Marchant and Leung.
The larvae is full of protein and energy.
“One third of the world’s population relies on insects as their main source of protein. Latin America eats the most insects in crickets and meal worms,” said Marchant, who demonstrated how good the larvae is by eating one.
The 35-employee facility also sells insect manure that is high in nutrients and certified organic.
“We’ve created a renewable product that up-cycles the waste material and puts it back into the food chain,” Leung said.
Enterra uses only pre-consumer food, like fruit and vegetables or bakery goods that have gone bad before being sold.
Enterra is currently working with Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s horticultural program to study their fertilizer because it appears it is a natural pesticide to root maggot.
“That was an unexpected benefit to the fertilizer,” said Marchant. “Agriculture Canada is doing research to prove out the pesticide aspects to our fertilizer which also may have mold control aspects which could be huge for greenhouses where mold is a problem.”
Enterra is actually a world leader in this type of insect farming and spend a lot of time working on developing regulations around it and supporting other companies trying to develop these facilities across the world.
“We are helping leaders in other countries,” said Marchant. “If the technology works like we think it will, there will thousands of these facilities all over the world.”
Despite being world leaders and successfully selling their larvae feed to the U.S. and Europe, Enterra can’t sell its feed in Canada.
“We have had our application into the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for four years now,” said Marchant.
To learn more go to enterrafeed.com.
Monique Tamminga Langley Times
Enterra CEO Brad Marchant demonstrates how humans can eat the larvae the dry and sell for animal and fish food at their $7.5 million Langley facility. They are also making organic fertilizer being used by local farmers.