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Insect production at Wadudu Insect Center

Insects are part of the solution for the future of protein. Together with plant-based products and algae they can help fight the deficit the world will be facing. With a lower footprint than traditional protein and the ability to farm them nearly anywhere in the world Wadudu believes this market to continue to grow and be seen as a new standard.

David Zuring
Wadudu Insect Center
Markerting and Communications

The idea of Wadudu Insect Center started in 2012. Janmar Katoele was visiting an alumni night where insects as food and feed came up. Many careful thoughts later Wadudu was founded. In 2015 it started its journey on 50 square meter, inviting a third partner, Sieto van Houten, into the company in 2017, now housing over 10 employees in total.
Wadudu Insect Center combines rearing, research and advice to reach a sustainable sector in North-West Europe. Sustainable by creating a circular protein. Economically interesting by contributing to building our sector. We want to add to the connection between farmers, processing facilities and customer to be a part of a transparent food chain.

Open innovation is one of the focus points in Beilen. Working together with researchers, entrepreneurs and government. Apart from these collaborations Wadudu aims to assist others. Through monthly knowledge sessions, anyone can join at the coffee table where in the span of a few hours a good, clear and concise image is given of the sector, the knowledge available is shared and a tour of the facility is given. A guide to raising mealworms was written and available through the webshop for those wanting to start farming on a hobby scale. One on one appointments give a personal touch for those looking for even more tailored information. Through this advice branch Wadudu is aiming to simply spread the word, support other farmers and enable those without the knowledge to gain entry to the market.

The company is expected to expand to over 2000 square meter this year, this second location will serve purpose as a production facility. The current situation will remain a research-based location, giving room to open innovation with the aim to keep developing the sector.

Wadudu is reproducing both mealworms (Tenebrio Molitor) and Black Soldier Flies (Hermetia Illucens) at their Beilen (The Netherlands) based location. These two types of insects have shown they are suitable for the climate in Europe when treated the proper way.

Apart from suitability there is a demand for both insects, creating a viable business opportunity. More and more research is showing these insects can contribute to better lives for laying hens, salmonids can be raised by substituting (part of) the fishmeal fed to them with Black Soldier Flies, mealworms carefully and slowly start to reach people’s plates or at least their backyards where chickens feed on them.

At Wadudu we aim to further specialize the sector. By taking away the hardest part of breeding insects, reproduction, we firmly believe it is easier to start with insect farming. We can supply starting farmers with base material; a mealworm of just a few days old. This enables these farmers with the ability to hit the ground running as well as turn an investment into a steady cash flow within a matter of weeks.

Starting farmers do not have to worry about beetles, they can focus themselves fully on raising mealworms. By doing so we can continue to specialize in reproducing beetles which brings a whole new perspective to the sector. As far as we know we are the first and only insect company that brings this focus to the chain. Wadudu aims to make insect farming easier for anyone, ultimately making a stronger chain of insect farmers.

Further developing this sector is crucial to our future, insect protein is slowly proving its worth as alternative source, we believe insects are part of the solution for a better future. According to IPIFF (International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed), the sector is expected to surge within the coming years. The choice to make it easier for other farmers to start in the insect sector has proven to be a good one for Wadudu, multiple farmers across Europe have been successful in their journey.

The starting material that Wadudu delivers to its customers is called a glassworm, the name comes from the fact that the few-day-old mealworms are almost transparent. Through the focus on reproduction the company has managed to be the first in the world to continually deliver this high quality product which can be raised into an adult mealworm within the time span of 7 to 8 weeks.

Through working with multiple universities, government bodies and enthusiastic entrepreneurs research is done. One of the most recent papers proved that the quality of life of laying hens is improved by feeding them the larva of Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia Illucens).

Research is simply needed at this stage of the sector. Preliminary results show that this sector is very promising yet not without challenges. Tying back to Open Innovation, we believe that the sector needs institutions like NACIA (North American Coalition of Insect Agriculture) and IPIFF to unite farmers across the globe and make sure we stay ahead of the curve.

The sector currently is limited by EU laws, as of 2017 it is allowed to feed a live or processed insect to aquaculture, for example salmon or trout. It is expected that these same rules will be implemented for poultry in 2020, for now only live insects may be fed to poultry. Tests are showing that feeding live insects to poultry on a smaller scale is very successful, yet poses challenges when scaling up.

When just 1% of all Dutch poultry feed would be replaced with processed insects we would open up a 70.000 ton market yearly, according to a 2016 ABN AMRO report. These numbers show a promising future for both the sector and the planet. If replacing 10% of fishmeal in Europe, one would look at a total of over 12.000 tons per month.

The European focus currently is on hygiene and steady quality, IPIFF released a guide on good practices giving farmers across the world a handle on how to further professionalize their facilities which in turn contributes to a sustainable sector.

The European Union is aiming to eliminate most ‘foreign’ proteins and wants to focus on producing sufficient amounts for all of its members. Insects, algae and seaweed are predicted to play big roles in this goal

Wadudu believes it is the duty of the insect producers to show policy makers that this sector is ready to be ‘part of European culture’. The Insect Center contributes to this by talking to local (Dutch) governing bodies as well as working together with farmers across the continent.

Throughout the development of the sector a trend in premium products is surging. Dog & cat food made with insects is making an entry quickly as well as high end fishmeal-replacements used to grow salmon and other fish alike are being applied through Black Soldier Fly pellets. Wadudu is expecting this trend to continue and scale up in the coming years. These premium products together with the feed market will contribute greatly to insects farmers worldwide.

Insects are part of the solution for the future of protein. Together with plant-based products and algae they can help fight the deficit the world will be facing. With a lower footprint than traditional protein and the ability to farm them nearly anywhere in the world Wadudu believes this market to continue to grow and be seen as a new standard. Open innovation & craftsmanship at the base of any facility will bring farmers together, take research further and create a transparent food chain to contribute to a better future.

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