In this post series we talk about the benefits of replacing soy with black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) as a protein source in animal feed. In the first post of the series we take a look at the costs – why BSF larvae is a cost-effective option for a protein source in animal feed.
BSFL are relatively inexpensive to produce in small and medium scale (outdoor cages, shacks and rearing containers such as Manna’s) and can be produced using biowaste (generally organic waste), such as food scraps, excess or outdated fruits and vegetables not suitable for human consumption, or even manure. The cost structure varies a lot depending on if you have to pay for the biowaste, if you get it for free, or in some cases you even get paid to take it away and upcycle it.
In small and medium scale production the operations can be cost-efficient also from energy consumption point of view. Outdoor cages or shacks can been operated in many parts of Southern hemisphere without electricity, while e.g. in Europe or North America the weather conditions are not very often suitable for rearing outdoors.
In regions where outdoors rearing is not an option, and even in warm-enough regions, Manna’s automatically climate-controlled rearing containers enable always having the right temperature, humidity, etc. for the BSF larvae to grow and upcycle the biowaste optimally, and Manna’s containers are extremely efficient in energy consumption, meaning that the containers can be operated in many cases even with solar panels.
The costs discussed in media regarding the rearing of BSF larvae are often related to factory-size operations and from manual labor -heavy processes that these big operations often require, thus the smaller scale operations are much easier to get profitable and cost-efficient overall. Not to talk about the costs of building the factories themselves with floors, ceilings, plumbing, electricity, sewage, AC and other equipment, sanitation costs, maintenance, etc.
In comparison, Manna Insect’s rearing containers are usually used but refurbished and equipped sea containers, and require on average 6 hours of work per rearing cycle, which is 10-14 days. This is including some time spent on pre-processing, loading and unloading the container, but without time spent on post-processing the larvae and frass, time that differs significantly per use case in all size operations.
That said, the labor costs are quite different in different regions, thus for example in Europe it’s much more expensive to hire someone to run the container than in SE Asia, South America or Africa.
One of the benefits (cost-wise) of having container-size operation is to enable de-centralized BSF production where transportation costs of either biowaste or the outcome (BSFL and frass) are usually cheaper due to the fact, that the container can be transported to the biowaste source or close to the end users using or processing the larvae and/or the frass.
At best, these all are in the same location. For example, a farm location where the farm animals produce the waste in the form of manure or locally grown vegetables and fruits can be fed to the larvae, while the outcome can also be used locally: frass for soil improvement, and depending on the biowaste, the larvae can either be fed to local farm animals live, or dried and used for soil improvement also. Similar use cases can be found at fish farms.
Follow Manna’s company profile in LinkedIn, as well as our home page for more use cases, examples and generally information about rearing and breeding BSF at professional level. The following 4 parts of the soy-comparison series are coming out in the next few days, so stay tuned.
And if you wish to calculate the costs of running BSF larvae rearing operations, check out our free BSF business case calculator to see if this all makes sense in your case, and what the cost and income structure could be.
Cover picture: Unsplash