Entomal Biotech pitches novel way of processing food waste into a healthy protein source

Staff reporter, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

Entomal founders want you to eat the bugs.

Entomal Biotech is bringing a new, sustainable way of processing food waste to the table. It has come up with an idea of circling food waste from the kitchen, home, to the dump and then back to animals or, ultimately in the future, human's stomach.

The Kuala Lumpur-based biotech startup is now seeking funding to set up both decentralized containers for small volume food waste from every household and large, centralized food waste treatment plant for restaurants and corporations.

It is working from the top down with local authorities to make impactful policy changes so that food waste treatment can be decarbonized. It has also received requests from private corporations for solutions to large-scale food waste treatment. According to the United Nation (UN)'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world produces 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food wastage every year. And the carbon footprint the total food wastage releases into the atmosphere is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gas.

Through Entomal Biotech, treating food waste is now much more innovative. The company focuses on treating food waste for clients including city councils, corporations, plantations, shopping malls, hotels, and communities, cooking their "secret recipe" that turn the food waste into nutritious insect protein extracted from black soldier fly larvae.

The company has helped set up black soldier fly farms internationally as it is equipped with a thorough technical understanding of the expertise. In addition to the farms existing in South Korea, China, Singapore, and Malaysia, Entomal Biotech is now working with new farms coming up in Thailand and Indonesia. The insect-based protein will be processed into animal feed, starting from pet food and eventually to livestock feed, as animal feed is the company's largest downstream market.

Yanni Ching, the "Fly Lady" of Entomal Biotech, who is also the CCO of the company with her two wingmen of the team - the co-founder and the CTO, said the insect-protein is an excellent choice to feed cats, chickens, and pigs as the protein is nutritious and beneficial. "Essentially, the nutrition makes them healthier and happier," she said.

In the future ahead, humans might be allowed to consume the insect-based protein as well, but it is still under extensive research and will need verification before it gets served. Entomal Biotech's vision is to work with UNICEF and distribute protein bars to countries with nutrition needs.

Tera cat food, the company's first product, has launched in Malaysia, where 70% of the population have cats as pets. The pet food market in southeast Asia, Ching said, is very competitive, but their sales are looking good. The company is also working to connect with distributors of Tera in Europe, where cat owners, or pet owners in general, are more willing to pay for a green premium for pet food. Their first stop might be the store shelves in the UK.

In addition to pet food, the company is developing a wound-healing cream for pets too. The anti-microbial peptides extracted from black solider fly protein is effective in healing and preventing infections.

Entomal Biotech has been in contact with black soldier fly farm operators in Taiwan. Although most of them are still in the early stage of development, said Ching, the industry will grow with support from the government. She is confident that the company's expertise would be a huge benefit for Taiwanese players.

Well-equipped to pioneer the niche market of food waste management around the world, the company is looking to work with waste management sector and black soldier fly farms. It has started pre-series A fundraising. The technology to produce larvae feed by treating food waste will be presented by the company at the TIE Awards held in Taipei on October 12-14, 2023.