Information for farmers
FarmInsect technology is tailored to the needs of farmers
FarmInsect offers farmers a solution that allows them to use regional residues to make insect larvae. The insect larvae can then be fed to farm animals as protein feed instead of imported soy or fish meal.
FarmInsect offers a machine and IoT system that enables automated insect fattening. Appropriately, the farmer receives the necessary amount of young larvae every week. The eggs are propagated and reared at FarmInsect. When the young larvae arrive at the farmer, they can be seen with the naked eye. In just one week of fattening, you can grow into 1.5 cm larvae and increase their weight by a factor of 1,000.
“In our test facility, we quickly realized that the reproduction of the insects is the complicated part of the life cycle. For the mast, however, a lot of organic material is required as feed. With our approach of central propagation and regional fattening, we want to optimally distribute the life cycle of the insects along the value chain ”FarmInsect founder Thomas Kühn.
With the FarmInsect approach, regional residues, such as harvest or peeling residues from agricultural operations or residues from the regional food industry, such as beer grains or old bread, can be optimally used. This type of residual material is usually perishable and very voluminous, which is why the logistics for large plants are not worthwhile. The regional recycling creates regional cycles and optimally uses resources.
The modular machine concept can be integrated into the infrastructure of any agricultural business. It is adapted exactly to the size of the farm, so that every day as many insects are produced as animal feed as the farmer needs to take care of his animals. The insect larvae only replace the protein feed such as soy or fish meal.
Info about insects
FarmInsect wants to revolutionize agriculture with regional insect production
Worldwide meat and fish consumption is continuously increasing
Meat and fish consumption has increased steadily worldwide over the past decades. The FAO anticipates a further increase of 65 % by 2050. Due to the growing demand, the prices for fish meal and soy have already increased by 200 - 400% in the last 10 years. In most livestock farms, feed costs account for up to 60% of operating costs. Therefore, many farmers are threatened in their existence by the rising feed prices.
Since the global agricultural area is almost fully exploited and more than 75 % of fish stocks are threatened by overfishing, further demand can only be met through innovative concepts.
farmInsect wants to redefine the supply chain for protein feed
The import of protein feed is currently determined by a few large companies. FarmInsect wants to change the supply chain from an import-dependent system with a few large players to a sustainable model with decentralized regional cycles. This enables farmers to diversify their income and reduce their operating costs. At the same time, farmers receive long-term planning security because feed prices are no longer dependent on the world market.
Until the feed such as soy or fish meal arrives at the farmer, they have also gone through a cascade of trade levels. By eliminating these trading margins and using regional residues as feed for the insects, farmers can produce their protein feed themselves up to 20 % cheaper. The cost savings have a direct impact on farmers' earnings. This can be increased by up to 50 %. In this way, small and medium-sized companies in particular can become more resilient and future-proof.
Animals love insects
Insects are a natural food for most farm animals. Insects increase animal health through natural antibiotics. Insects increase the growth of most animals and insects help farm animals to live out their natural behavior when looking for food (eg pecking or digging in the ground). This reduces behavioral disorders, such as feather pecking in chickens or tail biting in pigs.
FarmInsect assumes that the use of insects as animal feed can significantly reduce the use of antibiotics and that veterinary costs can be reduced by up to 20 %. The by-product of insect breeding is also an excellent organic fertilizer that increases soil and plant health.
Efficient use of resources through circular economy
On top of that, insect farming saves up to 50% CO2 (compared to importing fish meal) and reduces overfishing of the oceans and deforestation of the rainforest. This is mainly due to the fact that regional residues can be used as feed by insects. In addition to the CO2 reduction, this is also advantageous for the nutrient balance of the farmers. Since the reform of the EU fertilizer regulation, many farmers have faced major challenges because they can no longer apply as much nitrate to their fields in the form of, for example, manure. The result is that farmers can no longer keep as many farm animals. Insects can help improve the farm's nutrient balance by utilizing organic residues and reducing the amount of feed that needs to be added to the farm's nutrient balance from outside.
The insect market is facing exponential growth
Organic farming offers the ideal entry point for insect production
FarmInsect's target group is farmers with small to medium-sized livestock farms (chickens, pigs, fish). The FarmInsect concept is particularly relevant for organic farming. Organic feed is up to 50% more expensive than conventional feed. In addition, organic farms mostly operate a mixture of animal and plant agriculture, which means that the potential for regional nutrient cycles is very high.
The draft of the new EU organic regulation also stipulates that organic insects with 20 % must be fed with farm-based feed. This brings an enormous advantage for the regional production of insects. If the regulation is implemented in this way, the farm's own production would be the only way of keeping that corresponds to the future organic regulation.
The market potential in Germany and the world is enormous
A typical farm for which regional insect production is of interest has, for example, between 3,000 and 10,000 chickens or produces more than 100 t of fish per year. In addition, the farm either needs land on which crops are cultivated, or is located in a region with crop or vegetable producers or processing plants.
Number of potential FarmInsect customers in Germany (FarmInsect market research)
|Fish farming||Chicken fattening||Pig fattening|
|Number of companies in DE||2.885||4.120||22.000|
|Number of companies suitable size in DE||285||1.020||6.000|
|Insects per year (dried larvae)||125 t||170 t||260 t|
|Market potential (million €)||48||234||358|
The FAO expects up to 10 % of the world's fish meal to be replaced by insects by 2025. This would correspond to a market potential of over 8 billion euros. The Insect Organization of the EU (IPIFF) assumes that sales of insects of over 1.2 billion euros per year will be achieved by 2025 within the EU. Sales in the EU are currently in the single-digit million range.
Since both the production of soy and the production of fish meal emit a great deal of CO2, any increase in environmental regulations and taxation of CO2 emissions will give insect production additional impetus and make it even more competitive.
Insects have only been allowed as farm animals in the EU since 2017
Insects have been used as animal feed and for human nutrition worldwide for centuries. For a long time, this was not allowed in the EU. Six species of insect have been authorized as farm animals in the EU since 2017.
With the approval as farm animals, the same regulations apply for insect production as for the keeping of other farm animals. This is particularly relevant when choosing the food for the insects. Even if this waste or liquid manure can be used without problems, this is not permitted. All feed for the insects must meet the requirements for feed and the suppliers must be registered as feed companies. However, even in this area, millions of tons of high-quality residues are still generated every year, which cannot be used.
The use of insects as feed for farm animals is currently still heavily regulated. Processed products, such as insect meal, are currently only approved for use as fish feed. Feeding unprocessed or live insects is allowed for all farm animals except ruminants.
The founders of FarmInsect are fascinated by the potential that insects have to offer for agriculture
After completing their studies, the FarmInsect founders gained their first professional and entrepreneurial experience. Despite professional success, there was a bland aftertaste of not facing the relevant challenges of the future. Global megatrends such as the climate crisis or the growing world population seemed to be calling for a solution.
The founders, who had known each other through various entrepreneurial projects and programs at the TU Munich, had found a common direction. However, the path to the founding idea was far from clear. The first thing they looked at was the largest CO2 emitters in the world. Number one: agriculture. In agriculture, animal fattening has the greatest CO2 contribution. Inspired by the cycles of natural systems, they came across the potential of insects in agriculture. The founders then analyzed the entire value chain to find out where insects can create the greatest added value.
It quickly became clear that there is a big problem with protein feed. Soy and fish meal are essential for animal breeding. Both have to be imported into the EU at 90 % and ensure a high degree of dependence on world markets. The production of soy and fish meal leads to massive ecological problems such as deforestation of the rainforest and overfishing of the oceans. The regional production of insects as animal feed could solve this problem.
Motivated by the first findings, the founders set up their test production. As insects are a completely unknown farm animal in the EU, they initially had to face the corresponding challenges. From this point on, they began to develop a technological concept that farmers can use to easily produce insects on their farms. With automation and an IoT-supported software system, FarmInsect wants to make entry into insect breeding as easy as possible.
The founders of FarmInsect are an interdisciplinary and experienced team
All three founders are alumni of the TU Munich. Wolfgang Westermeier holds an M.Sc. in agricultural sciences and has successfully founded several companies in the food sector. He has experience in production, procurement and quality management. Thomas Kühn has an M.Sc. in electrical engineering and B.Sc. in business administration. He has successfully founded several companies in various industries and, among other things, successfully set up an IT company as CFO and sales manager. Andre Klöckner has an M.Sc. in electrical engineering and computer science. He has several years of experience in product development in the Agritech area.
Over time, the founders were able to win over a broad network of partners with their idea. You were supported and advised early on by BayStartUP. The startup has been supported by the Technical University of Munich since summer 2019, in particular with rooms for operating the pilot plant. Since 2020, the startup has also been included in the accelerator program of the LMU Munich (LMU-EC) and the European Institute of Technology (EIT-FAN). Together with the Munich University of Applied Sciences, they develop part of the automation.