Can maggots fuel sports drinks? South African startup thinks so

Insect protein is starting to gain in popularity globally.
Image: Reuters

A South African startup aims to produce high-quality protein powder from maggots for use in food products and sports drinks by the end of the year.

By doing so, it will become the first company in Africa to make insect protein for human consumption. South African rivals currently harvest larvae from the black soldier fly to supply animal and fish feed. Protein from the maggots can be harvested sustainably as the flies are fed on waste, reducing the need for landfills and helping to slow climate change.

Susento, owned partly by Stellenbosch University, near Cape Town, and entrepreneurs connected to the institution, is seeking to raise R12 million this month to help it set up production facilities in the Eastern Cape province.

“It’s the first round of financing,” said Elsje Pieterse, a lecturer in the Department of Animal Sciences at the university and part owner of Susento, which is an abbreviation for sustainability through entomology. The powder “doesn’t really have a taste or smell to it, it could be used in savoury or sweet” food such as chocolate, she said.

The protein is high quality and a one-hectare (2.47 acre) insect farm can produce 7 500 times more than a soy farm of the same size, according to Pieterse.

The new facility is expected to start production by December and will aim to harvest 30 tons of product a month. Susento already makes about three tons monthly at the university’s Mariendahl experimental farm outside Stellenbosch, mainly for use in pet food.

The company may also use the farm for so-called bioplastic from chitin, the material that makes up the exoskeleton of the fly larvae, Pieterse said.

Susento isn’t the only South African insect farmer trying to raise capital. Inseco, also based near Cape Town, says on its website that it’s accepting investment in its “seed round,” while AgriProtein has already established a plant in the city and plans to expand in California and Europe.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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Picture does not look like maggots which taper towards the head. Looks more like larval phyllophaga.

These look like cut worms (common name). Also known as wifchety grubs and they high in protein. Can be eaten alive.

Yes, many all over the word are trying to get these insects directly into peoples food, their business models need higher value products than animal feeds allows.

So you trust the Dept of Animal Sciences, not Dept of Food Sciences tell you about foods..

Their limitation.
-Quality and safety standards in the food industry, these larvae are grown on waste/refuse. Quality control of input/wastes is nearly impossible and safe cleaning/purification for products in food risky.

-As a waste reduction solution the black soldier fly is a poor solution, they perhaps use up tot 30% of the waste, the remaining still needs to be dealt with.

-These insects only partially recover proteins from their food source, they don’t “make” them.

So for that hectare comparison, you will need to source the protein from somewhere.. suddenly your “waste” becomes a commodity difficult to secure.

Anyway this waste to food is risky, the chain cannot be shorten safely by cutting out animals.

Lol you are what you eat. Have these … tested what effect this have on human consumption. Have they tested what the effect are on humans after eating the animals that consumed this feed?

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