In June of 2022, insect producers in Malaysia became eligible to export insect-based material to the EU for the first time, following Malaysia’s inclusion on the list of countries approved to export insects and insect-based products to the EU, joining a small selection of countries including Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and South Korea, with permission to do so.
On February 19, 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture approved Nutrition Technologies to export its insect meal and oil into the EU and UK markets, making it one of a handful of companies around the world and the first in Malaysia with this level of approval. The approval is for use in pet food, aquafeeds and fur animals.
A long approval process
“It has been a long process, partly because we are the first company in Malaysia to go through the approval process, so we and the Malaysian authorities had to do everything from scratch,” Nick Piggott, co-CEO and co-founder of Nutrition Technologies, told Aquafeed.com. “We originally applied to the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), which is the competent authority regulating animal feed in Malaysia, in November 2021. At that time, Malaysia was not an approved 3rd party exporter to the EU, so the first process was for the EC's DG Sante to assess and approve DVS as a competent authority capable of auditing farm operators in Malaysia to EU standards. This was completed in June 2022, and we were the first company audited in July 2022.”
The main requirements for the approval were to hold GMP and HACCP certificates and demonstrate global standards of food hygiene. “The UK and EU requirements are much more prescriptive than other countries, and far more procedural, mainly because our products are insect-based rather than animal-based,” Piggott told us.
The company also has the approval to ship to Thailand, Japan, Korea, Chile, Vietnam, Taiwan and Indonesia, all of which have pragmatic assessments of feed materials. “That basically means that we have to comply with the same regulations on quality and hygiene requirements as fishmeal, poultry meal, etc., rather than going through additional assessment simply because our material is of insect origin, rather than animal origin,” Piggott explained.
The first shipments to the EU and the UK will go in mid-March, once the company has processed the first TRACES health certificates. Nutrition Technologies currently ships industrial volumes of material throughout Asia and South America from the two-hectare factory in Malaysia.
The company is also beginning to ship to the U.S. this month and is looking into India. “We have a potential value-chain partnership in India which we are exploring that would bring sustainable, insect-fed seafood (primarily shrimp) to consumers in Japan and Europe. Our main focus is on pet food and aqua applications, so we're focusing on markets that are strong in those two applications,” Piggott told us.
Less energy input
The insect meal is produced to the highest international safety and hygiene standards with full batch traceability, where the larvae are fed only vegetable-based agro-industrial materials such as palm and grain byproducts.
Nutrition Technologies have a low-energy tropical production system that uses a unique combination of micro-organisms and black soldier flies to bioconvert 60,000 tonnes of waste organic byproducts into its value-adding products. As a tropical species, the black soldier fly larvae grow quickly and efficiently in the ambient Malaysian climate, meaning that very little energy is required to grow or breed the flies. This low-energy model means that the company benefits from a very low cost of production, but with the same high standards as any European or North American manufacturer, and is able to pass on those savings to the customer. This makes Nutrition Technologies’ products one of the most competitively priced insect products in the world, according to the company.
“This is a significant step forward in giving European manufacturers more sustainable options in their choice of feed ingredients,” said Nick Piggott, co-CEO and co-founder, Nutrition Technologies. “This development opens the door for new manufacturers to release insect-based products, and for existing manufacturers to both reduce their costs and improve their environmental footprint.”