Waste warriors: black soldier flies turn food scraps into value

They’re the creepy crawlies with a voracious appetite, so when it comes food waste, black soldier fly larvae are nature’s number one composters. Now, these wriggly grubs are helping South Australia’s food bowl stay clean and green as part of a sustainable food initiative from Mobius Farms.

Supported by UniSA’s Venture Catalyst program, Mobius Farms is tackling the ever-growing issue of food waste, with black soldier fly larvae as their weapon of choice.

In Mobius Farms’ 360-degree recycling process, the team collects food waste from commercial eateries, and feeds it to the larvae. The larvae consume and recycle this into an organic fertiliser, which is returned to local farms, then the now-fat grubs are dried and turned into protein-rich pet food.

UniSA graduate and co-director of Mobius Farms, Jeannine Malcolm, says black soldier larvae are the perfect waste warriors for organic recycling and supporting our environment.

“It’s no secret that Australia has some of the highest quality, safest and cleanest food in the world, but at the same time, we waste about 7.3 million tonnes of food each year,” Jeannine Malcolm says.

“When food is dumped into landfill, it rots and produces methane – a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide – so what we wanted to do was address this issue using black solider fly larvae.

“Black soldier fly larvae are nature’s super-composters. They have a massive appetite, and can eat twice their body weight in food per day – that’s equivalent to a person eating 1400 hotdogs.

“Because they eat almost any organic matter – from meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, to bread, coffee grinds and even brewery waste – they’re extremely versatile.

“Plus, as they use less land, water, time and energy than traditional composting, they present a comprehensive and sustainable solution for food waste in Australia.”

Globally, one third of all food (about 1.3 billion tonnes) is lost or wasted, costing the global economy approximately US$1 trillion each year.

Beyond compost, Mobius Farms is also generating a sustainable protein-rich food source for pets, Chris Malcolm, Co-director of Mobius Farms, says.

“COVID sparked such a spike in pet ownership, which triggered mass demand for high-quality, healthy and sustainable pet food,” Chris Malcolm says.

“The final stage of our recycling process is turning the black soldier fly larvae into pet food. Right at the end of their lifecycle, we dry out the insects and they become the perfect crunchy treat for chickens, frogs, and lizards.

“Our crunchy, oven-roasted ‘Chick Stix’ are a big hit with backyard chicken owners. They’re a great source of protein and calcium which is important for healthy feathers, beaks and egg strength. 

“They’re approximately 40 per cent protein and have 20 times the calcium of mealworms, so they are a great addition to a balanced diet.

“As more and more pet owners demand locally made, sustainable, and natural products for their pets, products like these will continue to flourish.

“It’s the perfect solution for a sustainable and circular economy on all levels.”

Mobius Farms have been awarded an Agrifutures grant to conduct further research on the effects of different drying techniques to help improve industry knowledge and develop feed safety standards for insect protein.

They are now seeking investment to help boost their growth strategy.

 

 

Contact for interview:  Jeannine Malcolm M: 0421 616 943 E: [email protected]

Media contact: Annabel Mansfield M: +61 479 182 489 E: [email protected]