Black Soldier Fly factory recycles agroprocessing waste

An image depicting Maltento CEO Dean Smorenburg

Maltento CEO Dean Smorenburg

Photo by Tommy Trenchard

5th February 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer


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Agri-tech company Maltento is transforming South Africa's recycling landscape by breeding black soldier flies to convert agroprocessing waste, including spent grains from the beer industry, into high-performance, nutrient-dense proteins and oils for pet and aquaculture feed.

“Maltento and its team, based in Cape Town [in the Western Cape], are carving their path as a key player in the South African sustainable agricultural landscape, and offer a true testament to the quality of South Africa's highly skilled scientists and engineers, for leading sustainable practices, and world-renowned innovation in the insect biotechnology space,” says Maltento CEO Dean Smorenburg.

Spent brewers’ grain is ingested by fly larvae at the Maltento Fly Farm, enriching their natural ability to produce functional proteins, healthy fats and essential amino acids.

Beyond protein, soldier fly larvae also produce frass – excrement of the spent brewery grains – a by-product with substantial nutritional value. Frass serves as a composted soil amendment product, enhancing soil fertility, building plant immunology, promoting nutrient cycling and improving soil structure.

“Frass can be used in a closed-loop system for fields where brewery grains are cultivated, creating a sustainable cycle that regenerates the soil and contributes to healthy grain growth.

“This closed-loop system is free of heavy metals and pesticides. Our factory currently diverts approximately 400 000 kg of agroprocessing waste and byproducts every month, and we project that we’ll reach up to 600 000 kg per month by year-end,” says new Maltento COO Jaysen Golding.

With a team of 65 employees at its 7 000 m2 factory in Cape Town, Maltento has successfully produced 75 t of product since its operations began and aims to reach 100 t by June.

To make this a reality, Maltento is calling on all large-scale breweries across the country to align with its vision for improved agricultural practices within the beer sector by joining them in making the industry more sustainable.

Rich in functional proteins, fats and essential nutrients, Maltento uses the humble black soldier fly’s larvae to provide a sustainable and nutrient-dense alternative to traditional feed sources.

By taking recycled waste from the beer-making process and feeding it to the larvae, its team can create a feed solution that is both functionally, economically and environmentally friendlier than animal-based protein, which uses 95 times more natural resources per kilogram than insect-based protein.

The black soldier fly protein is also hypoallergenic, contains antimicrobial peptides and can offer support for overall gut health in pets and fish.

Further, the fly farm aims to reintroduce around 1 444 t of frass into South African soil by the end of this year.

Maltento is currently offering corporates in the food and beer industry across South Africa’s main metropoles offtakes in frass that can be used to optimise their corporate gardens and potentially regenerate the fields in which their grains are cultivated.

The frass produced by the fly farm is currently being used on farms up the West Coast and should be available to local communities in Khayelitsha and the Cape Flats, both in the Western Cape, from February.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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