Cavallo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis, has made an investment in Beta Hatch, a Seattle, Washington-based company industrializing the production of insects as a sustainable protein for animal feed. This is Cavallo Ventures’ first investment in the animal feed industry.
Founded in 2015 by Dr. Virginia Emery, who has a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley and more than 12 years of experience working with insects, Beta Hatch develops insect-rearing technology that converts organic waste directly into high-value proteins, oils and nutrients for agriculture, enabling insects to cost-effectively meet the global scale of demand for plant and animal nutrients.
“We are delighted to be working with Wilbur-Ellis as one of the industry leaders in animal products and fertilizers,” Emery said. “Wilbur-Ellis’ market leadership will be invaluable as we develop the emerging insect industry as a new part of the food system. Similarly, Wilbur-Ellis’ connections to supply chains and customers will allow us to make the most impact in animal feed and agriculture.”
Possible disruption in fishmeal market
Through its patent-pending equipment, trade-secret process and unique genetic stock, Beta Hatch grows the world’s most efficient protein. Its mealworms feed on organic byproducts that would otherwise occupy a landfill, need minimal water, grow at 5000 times the acre yield of soy and, unlike fishmeal, contain no heavy metals. Containing 56 percent protein and 33 percent fat, Beta Hatch’s mealworms could majorly disrupt the fishmeal market.
“To say that Beta Hatch’s technology and growth capacity is impressive would be an understatement,” said Wilbur-Ellis Feed President Andrew Loder. “At Wilbur-Ellis, we are always looking for not only new and innovative ways to approach the feed industry, but new and innovative ways to grow our business as well. This is fundamental to our growth strategy and innovation vision. Beta Hatch’s technology will allow our partners access to a fresh, year-round protein supply that is both sustainable and environmentally-friendly. It’s a win for us and a win for our customers.”
“This round of fundraising will allow us to build a precommercial facility where we can demonstrate the full processing capacity of our system and design a commercial facility. Within a few years, we will be producing several tons of product each day,” said Emery.
Beta Hatch’s capabilities don’t stop at feed for aquaculture and poultry. Frass, or insect manure, is generated by Beta Hatch insects and can be used as a complete organic fertilizer for specialty crops. As its partnership with Beta Hatch grows, Wilbur-Ellis will look for ways to collaborate with Beta Hatch in its agribusiness as well.
“Beta Hatch is a pioneer in the emerging insect industry,” said Emery. “We’re developing modular, cost-efficient systems to produce insects at massive scale and at low cost. And, our vision is that insects can help feed the protein of the future as well as support the growth of healthy crops everywhere around the world.”