Insects and the Future of Food: Breakfast Recap

Recap of the March2018 CleanTech Breakfast featuring Virginia Emery of Beta Hatch. 

Virginia Emery, Ph.D. spends a lot of time thinking about what our food eats. As global population continues to rise, so will global consumption of meat. The answer to producing more meat from healthier animals with less environmental impact lies in insects, according to Emery and her company Beta Hatch.

“Animal feed is a $400 billion market and its starving for some innovation,” Emery said at April’s CleanTech Alliance Breakfast. The monthly series is sponsored by Perkins Coie.

An entomologist by training, Emery first got into the business of bugs when she began to wonder how they could be seen as useful rather than just as pests. Insects are a natural food source for animals, yet animal feed today relies heavily on other ingredients that are not often a natural part of their diet. During her talk, Emery laid out four main reasons insects are not currently bred for this purpose:

  1. There is no established stock to pull from
  2. The production scale required is enormous
  3. Overall costs are high
  4. Insects as feed fall in the FDA’s jurisdiction, and there are no current standards for regulation in this industry.

Beta Hatch addresses these challenges in several ways. The core of their business is a genetic platform for breeding insects that will develop a primary stock, as well as patents on specialized equipment and tools. They are developing efficient and reliable processes, and are on the path to FDA regulation.

“We are a knowledge company, building the right tools for the agriculture and food industries,” Emery said.

The company recently completed a $2.2 million seed round, and received an $1.6 million investment from Wilbur Ellis. This summer they plan to build the first manufacturing hub in Washington State, and the first ranch facility in the northwest. Beta Hatch’s insect breeding needs could utilize former poultry ranches in the Midwest, bringing jobs back to those communities.

Learn more about the potential of Beta Hatch by watching the full presentation below. The final CleanTech Breakfast takes place May 9 and features a panel of marine energy specialists. Register now! Thank you for joining us for this year’s series, and a special thanks to sponsor Perkins Coie!