We caught up the co-founders and directors of the Belgium headquartered insect meal producer, Alexandre de Caters and Gaetan Crielaard, ahead of VIV Asia later on this month.
Entobel, they said, is attending the Bangkok trade show in the hope of extending its feed trial network and R&D partners: “We will introduce our products, mostly insect meal and insect oil, to potential clients interested in performing trials,” said the directors.
Insect rearing on organic biomass and processing is the core activity of the company. Production is based on the Black Soldier Fly. Alongside the meal and oil, its product portfolio includes live and dried larvae and organic fertilizer.
German company, Hermetia, is its technical partner. However, Entobel’s production is based in South Vietnam.
It started operations in 2013: “Our pilot plant, with a capacity of 60 tons of fresh larvae a year, has been running for two years."
“Entobel has acquired relevant and sound production principles from its German partner Katz Biotech - Hermetia GmbH, a pioneer in insect rearing and processing in Europe. The whole process has been adapted to the Vietnamese market. Our technology is cost efficient, easily transferable and has low capital intensity,” said de Caters and Crielaard.
The company is currently in the process of registering its insect meal in Vietnam, they added.
Entobel is looking to market its organic fertilizer there as well to support the development of organic farming in Vietnam.
The company claims its insect meal is cost competitive with fishmeal: “We focus on geographical areas with a tropical climate and competitive labor forces. We believe that is a critical factor to achieve lower production costs."
Vietnam was chosen as the company’s launch market because the Southeast Asian country relies heavily on imports to meet its feed demand and feed prices are, on average, much higher than in neighboring countries.
Moreover, with an agricultural sector and a population expected to grow at a very high rate in Vietnam, organic by-products generated will increase accordingly and ensure a steady biomass supply for its production, said Entobel.
The company is targeting segments such as aqua and poultry feed along with pet food. “Our insect meal has been shown to increase feed intake in several aqua trials,” said the co-founders.
Entobel has already received financial backing from external sources. “We are now in discussion with other investors for the next round,” said de Caters and Crielaard.
The directors said the amounts already invested and secured for commercial phase in Vietnam are currently undisclosed. "We work with private, strategic individuals investors, mainly, and we also received a grant in 2015 from a innovation program partnership between the ministry of science and technology in Vietnam and the Finnish government."