A company focused on commercially raising black soldier fly larvae will open in Maysville later this year.
Enviroflight is a company that will produce BSFL for animal consumption. Though the BSFL can be produced for human consumption, Enviroflight will only focus on animal consumption.
Enviroflight President Liz Koutsos gave a presentation on the importance of companies like Enviroflight at Maysville Rotary Club on Tuesday.
“When I’m on airplanes, my favorite thing to joke about is saying I’m a maggot farmer,” she said. “It creates a lot of conversation. People ask why I raise maggots. The reality is that insects have been raised commercially in the United States for over 70 years. There are massive numbers raised for bait and live feeding.”
According to Koutsos, animals love to eat insects.
“Down to your pet hedgehog that has insects in their diet,” she said. “Many exotic and wild species eat insects. Even if the insects are not the primary diet, they will still have them in their diet. There is a tremendous market opportunity to feed insects to commercially farmed animals. Insects play a huge role in animal diets.”
Koutsos also said humans consume insects as a part of their diets.
“This is not what we do at Enviroflight,” she said. “But, this is a very real and growing industry around the world. Over two billion people, around the world, eat insects as an intentional part of their diet.”
According to Koutsos, eating insects is popular because bugs contain a large amount of protein that is helpful in areas that may have a difficult time finding protein elsewhere.
“The reason we look at insects is because, from a sustainability prospective, you can get 10,000 to 100,000 more protein in one acre of land by raising insects than any other protein source there is,” she said. “Whether you’re talking about chicken, cattle, soy beans, or any other protein, the difference is astronomical. We’re not limited to the flat 2-D surface of an acre and we can go up as many stories as we’d like to farm. This is why the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations have all put in tremendous amounts of funding the commercial production of insects as a food source.”
Koutsos said the most commercialized insect for consumption is crickets. The insect chosen by Enviroflight, however, is the black soldier fly.
“We believe the black soldier fly is most important to raise for animal consumption because of several reasons,” she said.
Some of those reasons include the BSF being omnivorous, meaning it will eat anything; the insects are not considered pests, they do not carry zoonotic diseases, do not bite, do not sting and are sustainable and eco-friendly.
“You don’t have to worry about diseases with these flies like you do your typical house flies,” she said.
Koutsos said Enviroflight is raising BSF larvae that can be turned into different things, such as whole dried larvae that can be used as treats or supplements for animals, or protein rich meal or oils.
“There’s lots of different things you can do with insects,” she said. “This is what we will be doing at Enviroflight.”
Koutsos said the Maysville Enviroflight location will be the first commercial scale insect production facility in the United States. It will employee 25 people when it first opens. However, it will employ more as the plant expands.
The plant will be located along Kentucky 9 in the old Emerson building.
“The plant will be cleaner than even your typical human food plant,” she said. “They’ll be the cleanest maggots you’ve ever seen. We’ll employee about 20-25 people during the first phase and we’re expected to grow through three phases. We do have an active business plan to grow and with each growth, we’ll increase our employees as well.”
Koutsos said Maysville was chosen for the plant due to access to Kentucky 9 and the proximity to their feed stock plant.
“We chose it due to the location and logistics,” she said. “We can use (Kentucky 9) to get to the location. And, we like Maysville.”
The grand opening for the plant is expected in November 2018.