Enterra converting food waste to animal feed through bugs

Enterra Feed Corporation (Enterra) is using $6 million in funding from the federal AgriInnovate Program to increase its production of black soldier flies for animal feed.

Enterra has developed proprietary farming methods to cultivate the flies, which are a beneficial, non-invasive insect species with a rich nutritional profile. The company uses recycled food waste from local farms, grocery stores and food production facilities to feed the insects, including a mix of fruits, vegetables and grains, which are then dried and processed into animal feed ingredients and fertilizer for plants.

This funding supported the construction of Enterra’s state-of-the-art, 188,000-square-foot production facility just north of Calgary, Alberta in Rocky View County. It is the first operation of its kind in Canada. Thanks to the new plant, the company has been able to increase production capacity to 10 tonnes per day, compared to 10 tonnes per month at its previous pilot production facility.

Enterra produces insect-based feed ingredients at the facility, with products for the pet food, poultry and wild bird markets being shipped throughout North America as well as recent expansion to the European Union. It is able to recycle more than 130 tonnes of food waste per day. Operation of the facility also brought more than 65 jobs to the local economy.

“Our sustainable approach of using pre-consumer food waste and upcycling the nutrients allows valuable nutrients that are often left unutilized or underutilized to be captured.” said Enterra’s president and CEO, Keith Driver.

“The resulting products are high-quality feed ingredients with unique beneficial properties that markets are demanding around the world. This work is revolutionary and now Enterra is a world leader in harnessing the power of insects to feed and care for the world.”

The company, founded in 2007, was the first company in Canada licensed to use and commercially produce insects for animal feed.

Food waste in Canada

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government is counting on entrepreneurs like Enterrra to help combat the problem of food waste in Canada.

Over half (35.5 million tonnes) of Canada’s food supply is lost or wasted annually and $49.5 billion of that wasted food is avoidable. In Canada, food is wasted from farm to plate, through production, processing, distribution, retail, food-service and at home. Eight percent of all greenhouse gases worldwide are the result of food waste.

The AgriInnovate Program provides repayable contributions for projects that aim to accelerate the commercialization, adoption and/or demonstration of innovative products, technologies, processes or services that increase sector competitiveness and sustainability.

The Food Waste Reduction Challenge was launched by Minister Bibeau on November 19, 2020. Challenge Streams A and B focus on business model solutions that can prevent or divert food waste at any point from farm-to-plate. The launch of Challenge Streams C and D, which will focus on technological solutions to food waste, is planned for spring 2021.