The "disgust" is the greatest obstacle facing the Flying Spark of Israel food technology startup that produces a protein and mineral powder from fruit fly larvae.DESCUBRIENDO ISRAEL - Reciba gratisel boletín por correo quincenalmente Suscríbase
How?"In the insect protein there are only good things without bad," they said with enthusiasm were Gronich, executive director of the company based in the coastal city of Ashdod.
According to the company, the dust derived from fly larvae has 70 percent protein and the rest contains important amino acids and minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Unlike meat, insect -based protein production has no pesticide or antibiotics, it is low in fat, it needs much less water and very little land to produce it."We can cultivate the equivalent of larvae to a cow between 300 and 400 kilograms and in just one square meter," Gronich told Israel21C in Spanish.
From his position at Flying Spark, the manager estimates that, compared to the production of meat, per 1.000 tons of protein powder produced are saved 110 million square meters of fresh water, 50.000 hectares of land and 55.000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Flying Spark is one of the many new companies that "cultivate" insects to save the planet from environmental disasters and feed a growing number of hungry people.Is that, according to some estimates, by 2050 the world population could exceed 9.000 million according to some estimates.In that context, humanity will need 70 percent more food production.
Today, the United Nations Organization states that one in nine people suffers from chronic malnutrition and that 51 million are children under five years old.
What insects should be used?
Gronich is a serial entrepreneur of the Internet who brought together a team of entomologists and food lovers with specialized scientists in the insect study.What I wanted to know was basically what insects it was convenient to use.
“There are companies that use all kinds of insects such as saltamontes, crickets, flour worms, etc..As far as we know, we are the only ones that we use fruit fly larvae, ”explained the businessman.Larvas de mosca de la fruta en polvo. Foto: Eran Gronich
Like all insects, fruit flies put eggs.His larvae, who live only week, are the phase between the egg and the appearance of a baby fly known as "pupa".
The larvae do not hear, they feel or see.There is no parental relationship between a motherfly and the larvae, which all they do is eat with a lot of appetite.
In that week, the body mass of the larva increases 250 times and this is one of the main reasons why Flying Spark chose to produce fruit flies proteins.
The company processes the larvae - which are not genetically modified organisms - in a white powder.For this, all parts of the larvae are used (there are almost zero waste), unlike other insects such as ground lobsters.
The resulting dust has barely smell or taste, which makes it easier to be incorporated into any type of food, from a hamburger to an energy shake.Other types of powdered proteins can have a strong smell that manufacturers must mask, which limits their application.
Feed animals first
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The first use of the product, which Gronich hopes that it will be available this year, will be for the feeding of animals while the approval of the US Food and Medicines Administration (FDA) to be for human use will not arrive before 2022.
Meanwhile, Flying Spark establishes a manufacturing plant in Thailand, where eating insects is not a taboo."There are about 2.000 billion people who eat insects in southern Asia, Africa and South America, ”said Gronich.
Since 2019, the company is associated with the manufacturer of products of the sea Thai Union, the largest canned tuna factory in the world, to develop a product called Notuna together.
In the West, Flying Spark knows that theirs will be more difficult to sell since apart from the "disgust" an example is that for the observing Jews there is the problem that the fruit flies are not kosher.On the contrary, the Israeli startup of Hargol food technology is raising Kosher Saltamontes for consumption.
And what with vegans?Will they adopt the powder insect protein or reject it?
Gronich indicated that there is the possibility that those vegans to whom not damaging animals is their ideological reason, this protein can be an option."The larvae are not the same as a cow.There is no suffering as in a pig farm or a chickens, ”he described.
Economic and sustainable productionEl equipo de Flying SpArk con su director ejecutivo Eran Gronich a la derecha. Foto cortesía de Flying SpArk
The company will seek to sell the ton of fruit fly powder at about 48.000 Shekels (USD 15.000).A liquid version of the product - in transparent oil form - can be used in dietary and even cosmetics supplements.
Flying Spark was born in 2015 with the name "Flying Ark", a biblical reference to Noah's ark but then the ARK became spark -chispa, in English- to insinuate, said Gronich, that the company "can give a solution to thehumanity through a healthy, sustainable and economic protein source ”.
The company went through incubator programs that, like Masschallenge and the IKEA training field.In 2016 he joined The Kitchen Foodtech Hub, an initiative created by Strauss Group in Israel with the Israel Innovation Authority.Strauss has about 25 percent of Flying Spark's shareholding package.
In February of this year, Flying Spark became public and raised about 20 million Shekels (USD 6.000.000) In the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.The Thailand production plant will be the main beneficiary of these funds.
An alternative protein
With regard insects at the local level, Hargol is Flying Spark's main competitor but there are about 300 food technology companies in Israel that are creating a vast range of alternative proteins.
These are some that stand out for their innovative approach:
For more information, click here.