LITHUANIA – Bühler, a Swiss supplier of food processing technology, will oversee the construction of the inaugural commercial-scale yellow mealworm production facility for Lithuanian insect producer Divaks.
Scheduled to commence operations in 2025, this cutting-edge plant, situated within Lithuania’s Marijampolė Free Economic Zone, is poised to yield up to 15,000 metric tons of sustainable insect-derived products annually.
Bühler is tasked with the comprehensive planning and execution of the facility, encompassing solutions for the entire supply chain.
“Bühler will take charge of the entire process technology, ranging from feedstock preparation, ensuring the provision of safe, delectable, and nourishing sustenance for the larvae, to the implementation of a state-of-the-art, fully automated larvae growth system featuring advanced climate control,” read a statement from Bühler.
Moreover, Bühler will be instrumental in establishing the processing line, transforming the harvested larvae into textured insect proteins (TIP), insect protein concentrates (IPC), and other specialized food ingredients.
Within this state-of-the-art plant, Divaks will focus on producing yellow mealworms, scientifically identified as Tenebrio molitor, which have been officially sanctioned as safe for human consumption by the European Commission.
These mealworms are lauded for their eco-friendly attributes. They serve as a highly nutritious protein source in various sectors, including meat substitutes, sports nutrition, snacks, confectionery, and premium pet food.
The byproduct from mealworm production, or insect frass, will be repurposed as organic fertilizer, contributing to healthier soils and promoting a circular economy approach.
Research underscores the growing necessity for sustainable protein sources to meet the demands of an ever-expanding global population.
“Edible insects play a pivotal role as we transition toward a more resilient and sustainable food system. Our new facility empowers food brands to delve into this rapidly growing, high-potential sector, offering premium-quality protein ingredients for top-tier food products,” CEO and Co-Founder of Divaks, Kęstutis Lipnickas, emphasized.
Bühler started to develop a string of technologies and capabilities for the insect processing industry in 2019, in response to the rising demand for alternative protein sources globally, especially in Europe.
The technology group completed its first project in the Netherlands with a farmer who had already worked on the concept of producing yellow mealworms on an old pig farm.
Bühler supported the project and design, installation, and commissioning of a complete mealworm production facility in a 2,300 square-meter facility.
The company has since installed and commissioned similar plants, especially for the production of black soldier fly (BSF) larvae for use in the food and feed industry.