I recently posted a blog about the top 5 Black Soldier Fly Companies on a facebook group message board. I did my best but the industry is so new I was bound to leave some out. After posting this blog I was contacted by Thomas Pui Co-founder of Betsol. Thomas sent me a link to the Betsol website and after looking at their mission I knew I had to interview him for my final I-Corps interviews. I asked him if he would be willing and we got on zoom for a quick interview.
My first questions to Thomas was how fast their company was growing, how long they had been in business and how many jobs they had created. He told me they had been in operation for about one year and had created 6 operational supervisor jobs and 4 upper management jobs. These positions were filled by bioscience and entomology degrees from the local Maylasian colleges. He expressed to me that maintaining a colony is at the heart of their business so having a degree was essential for the job. I asked him how much Black Soldier Fly Larvae they are producing and he told me they produce 1 ton of live larvae every day. I asked him why he gave me that measure even though they don't sell any live larvae on their website? He told me moving forward they were focused on the chicken and aquaculture industry and the best form would be a meal that is why they don’t have any live larvae for sale on their website. He did mention they do sell some live larvae to farmers for test runs but don't advertise it on their website.
I noticed on their website that they had two different types of dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae product. I asked what was the difference between the microwave and the oven larvae. He then explained that the microwave larvae were more for pets such as turtles and reptiles. He also said the product was lighter in texture and didn't break up as easy powder in the extruders so it wasn't as good for meal. The oven backed Black Soldier Fly Larvae were darker but were more brittle allowing it to be less clumpy in the extruder. He also said it binds better to other ingredients. He also mentioned that no matter how the larvae is dried it will still have the same nutrient content. He told me they can keep the dried larvae for a shelf life of 1 year.
He said Malaysia eats a lot of chicken and fish, so the demand for agriculture feed will increase. He said the Black Soldier Fly Larvae mainly feed fruits and vegetables from local restaurants helping to solve the food waste problem in Malaysia. it's estimated that Malaysia creates more than 3000 tons of food waste daily.
He then showed me a chicken brand from Malaysia that had he Black Soldier Fly Larvae in it and he also showed me a company called Yora in the UK who uses it in their dog food.
He told me there are 3 stages of chicken development: starter, grower and final. They are trying to focus on the starter phases because the Black Soldier Fly has a natural antibiotic that helps with mortality rate. For Malaysia farmers, feed accounts for 70-80% of the cost to raise an animal. He said they are trying to reduce the FCR by using the Black Soldier Fly as a better protein that keeps the animals fuller longer. He said that he will give it to his friends, and they will come back and want a few tons. He finished by telling me we need to make sure the consumer has an open mind or open the consumer's mind to this innovative idea.