Company using flies as feed ingredient receives federal funding

A company producing animal feed from black soldier flies has expanded production from British Columbia into Alberta and expects to eventually build across Canada.

Enterra Feed Corp. was the first company in Canada to obtain regulatory approval to use flies in animal feed ingredients.

Last year it opened a $35-million, 200,000-sq. foot facility in Rocky View County near Calgary, and earlier this week received $6 million in federal funding through the AgriInnovate program. The facility will be at full production early this year.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the money was to support construction costs, innovative equipment and production process improvements.

The Alberta plant uses 130 tonnes of food waste per day to make 10 tonnes of ingredients. This compares to 10 tonnes per month in the pilot production facility it had previously.

Chief executive officer Keith Driver said the flies convert pre-consumer food waste and other agricultural residue into high-value proteins. The resulting products are fed to poultry, fish, pets, wild birds and some to swine.

From egg to fully-grown larvae, the black soldier fly grows about one million percent in just a few weeks, he said.

The manure produced by the larvae, another 10 to 15 tonnes, is sold as an organic fertilizer.

“I’m so amazed by our innovative agri-food entrepreneurs in Canada who are putting the eco back into economy,” Bibeau said.

Enterra markets around the world and has created 65 jobs.

Bibeau said the operation fits with Canada’s commitment to reduce food waste and promote a circular economy.

Driver said Enterra intends to build nine more facilities in the next five years. The next will be built close to Calgary as well.

“We had intended and are looking at a facility in Quebec and one in Ontario as well,” he said, but COVID-19 delayed that plan. “Really the sources of feedstock for us tend to be in and around metropolitan regions.

“It’s really disheartening how much food doesn’t make it to the plate.”

But the feed market for nutritious insect protein is growing substantially, he said. It’s possible their products could be human food grade some day as well.

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