AgriProtein is leading a new nutrient recycling industry to deal with the urgent need for new sustainable sources of protein. The man behind AgriProtein, Jason Drew, established the company in 2008 and plans to start a revolution in sustainable animal protein by 2020.
Today, AgriProtein has a 9,000m2 factory, international licenses and has produced its first commercial volumes at Factory One. This took many years of investment, research, financing from various sponsors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and above all, the dedication of the six executive team members.
“We have a close collaboration with a number of universities worldwide,” says Drew, “At any time we have 5-6 Masters’ students working on their doctoral theses with us as part of our ongoing research work.”
“A lot of scientific research has gone into the project, including over five years of R&D and production trials with a team of scientists based at our central laboratory. The team consisted of doctors of entomology, researchers, international masters and PhD students.”
MagMeal™ is AgriProtein’s primary product; 55% protein and 100% sustainable natural organic animal feed. Studies have shown that MagMeal™ fed chickens demonstrated improved health, excellent weight uptake, lower gizzard erosion and excellent consumer sensory and taste results.
The technology developed by AgriProtein recycles natural feed for animals from bio-available waste. The fundamentals behind the waste-to-protein platform are actually millions of years old: flies laid eggs in dinosaur waste and carcasses during the Jurassic period. The larvae eventually became a natural feed source for fowl and fish. Organic waste is therefore a crucial part of the entire process and can come from a variety of sources, including restaurants and hotels.
“We receive 110 tonnes of organic waste a day – handling it is a full time job for two people,” explains Drew, “It is brought to us by our waste partners from waste producers.”
For every tonne of AgriProtein MagMeal™ produced, an average environmental saving of $2,800 is made. This is one of the reasons why the company has been widely recognised for their innovations. AgriProtein was the winner of the United Nations sponsored Innovation Prize for Africa, Cape Town Design Capital of the Year Green Program, World Wild Life Fund’s Climate Solver Innovation Award and Green Time’s PEA awards.
“We spent six years researching and trailing our systems and then the last two industrialising them,” says Drew. The grounding of Factory One in 2015 was a great breakthrough and the company has ambitious plans for 2016.
“We are now opening in six new countries in 2016 and have hub offices in Asia, North America and South America,” says Drew.
One of the challenges for going online had been the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) regulations. AgriProtein began its first animal trials in 2010, was granted product licenses by the Department of Agriculture in South Africa in 2014 and got their initial licenses agreed in Australia, Asia, Europe, USA and Chile in 2015.
“The usual EIA regulations covering any new factory set up as well as the specific ones of registering MagMeal™ as a food product were challenges that took several years to achieve,” explains Drew. “Today, MagMeal™ is a registered product for animal feed in South Africa as well as several US states – it is increasingly being accepted worldwide.”
Jason Drew’s achievements go beyond the state-of-the art production facility that produces 7mt of MagMeal™, 3mt of MagOil™ and 8mt of MagSoil™ per day. AgriProtein has a community-supported insect-based protein farm in Klipheuwel and a satellite demonstration site in Kenya. Many academic journals have been published from their research and their innovations have the potential to change the world.