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Cepri-Tech talks about SMART. INSECT. FARMING.

Portrait of Ludwig Rensch
Ludwig Rensch


Insects 4.0 - how industrial processes are revolutionizing global protein production

Networked, data-driven agriculture is becoming a growth area for machine and plant engineers, driven by $4.7 billion in investments in 2019 alone. Digital technologies are enabling us to completely rethink the production of food; the depletion of global resources is forcing us to do so. One of the most promising markets is insect farming, as the protein is valuable as feed for aquaculture, livestock and plants. Automated farms are already being built around the world, and now it is time to scale up. We hosted the Karlsruhe start-up Cepri Tech for a Lab Talk.

Traditional agriculture can no longer meet the needs of the immensely growing world population. In 2050, the demand for animal protein is expected to increase by 70%. That is 142 million tons of additional protein per year, a mass for which land alone is not available. The transformation of the agricultural economy, called AgTech, is in full swing.

At Intuity, we are working with the Hamburg-based company &ever, which operates vertical farming facilities, for example to supply the population of Kuwait with regional lettuce. Innovative technologies enable cultivation to use 90% less water and be pesticide-free. Indoor Vertical Farming casts a new light on the way we produce food.

Now biologists Marcel Lieber and Lucas Hartmann from CepriTech held a fascinating Lab Talk about the current status and future of insect farming. The target market for the breeding of mealworms and soldier flies is cattle feed - up to now, soybean and fish meal have been used as a source of protein. However, since the former causes deforestation of the rainforest and the latter causes overfishing of the oceans, both are not sustainable and certainly not scalable.

CepriTech at Intuity

As farm animals, mealworms are incredibly efficient. They can turn our waste streams into first-class protein. The market for protein production by insects therefore has immense potential. 1 billion US dollars have already been invested globally. The biggest player at the moment is the French company Ÿnsect, which has built the largest insect farm to date, producing 100,000 tons of animal food annually. From a global perspective, however, this is still "small scale". Now the signs are pointing to scaling.

We are curious to see what the insect production of the future will look like and thank Marcel and Lucas for the inspiring Lab Talk.