Forget software bugs, this startup is focused on insects that could change the agriculture industry

Source:  Geekwire.com, Nov 23

Some of the most intriguing farming in Washington is taking place not among the valleys or rolling hills of the eastern part of the state. It’s happening indoors, in an industrial area of the city of SeaTac, south of Seattle. There are no crops, and no livestock. This startup is growing insects.

Beta Hatch is the 3-year-old brainchild of Virginia Emery, a PhD entomologist who has turned her focus to entrepreneurship in hopes of changing the agriculture industry — and perhaps the world — by changing what animals eat.

Feeding our food is a costly business. According to Beta Hatch, 30 percent of crop production goes to feeding livestock, 60 percent of feed and food ends up being wasted and feed makes up 50 percent of the cost of meat.

Mealworms are Emery’s answer.

The target audience is chickens and farm-raised fish, where mealworms would serve as a replacement for feed that is traditionally animal proteins such as fish meal and fish oil. Beta Hatch’s biggest customer right now is the pet supply industry and the flourishing backyard chicken market, and they’ll be distributing specifically through a company called Chubby Pet Products.

“Chicken and fish would much rather eat a bug than a processed soy pellet,” Emery said. “They call mealworms ‘chicken crack’ because they go crazy for it. They love insects, which makes sense, it’s a natural part of what they would eat in the wild. So that hasn’t been the problem.”

Read the full story for more, including Meal worm Olympics and frass production.

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