Insects are all the buzz in Finland
Valpas closed a 1.6-million-euro seed funding round last year to spur growth for its solution that tackles the problem of bedbugs.Valpas
Finnish solutions are tackling a variety of issues related to insects – from creating animal feed to ensuring a good night’s sleep at a hotel.
Manna Insect has announced the second generation of Manna MIND, a solution for converting spaces into climate-controlled insect farming facilities.
The upgraded solution promises to optimise power consumption to enable the facility to run exclusively on solar power, and make the rearing of insects profitable regardless of climate and weather conditions.
Designed to optimise the climate of 20-foot shipping containers for insect rearing, the first-generation solution was shipped to five continents within a year of its launch. Ykä Marjanen, the CEO of Manna Insect, indicated that a solution with even lower adoption costs was required to appeal to a broader market.
“The cost of building the container is often too much for a chicken farmer in Kenya or a fish farmer in Indonesia, and we wanted to reach out to this enormous market segment with our new solution,” he stated.
“The [second-generation] version is more versatile, smaller and has more features than the first-generation MIND.”
Manna Insect’s solution enables the operation of an insect farm on a stand-alone basis on a variety of sitesManna Insect
The Kempele-headquartered startup has solved the biowaste and animal feed problems by utilising black soldier fly larvae to upcycle organic waste into affordable and nutritious animal feed and organic fertiliser.
Manna MIND is essentially a sensor and control unit that helps to optimise growth and breeding conditions at each stage of the larvae growth. It enables the operation of an insect farm on a stand-alone basis on a variety of sites – from fish farms and remote islands to industrial and commercial plots – while requiring only around six hours of human input during the 10-day growth cycle of black soldier fly, according to the startup.
The fly soldiers on
The black soldier fly is also an integral ingredient of a feed that is used for organic laying hens at Mäntymäen Luomutila in Hyvinkää, a town located about 50 kilometres north of Helsinki.
Produced by RehuX, the feed contains an insect-based protein developed by Volare, a spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The protein is produced from black soldier fly larvae in accordance with circular economy principles, with the spin-off seeking to minimise waste and use a variety of food industry side streams such as inedible grain components, vegetable trimmings and by-products of beer brewing.
“Our insect-based protein is already used in pet food. Now, in collaboration with RehuX, we can offer a climate-friendly option suitable for organic chickens as well,” remarked Jarna Hyvönen, chief operating officer at Volare.
The startup believes the protein has the potential to replace animal and soya-based proteins that require larger amounts of land, water and energy.
Volare is reducing the environmental impact of the feed and pet food industries with its products made with black soldier fly larvae.Jarna Hyvönen / X
Mäntymäen Luomutila said the protein enables it to reduce feed-related emissions and produce eggs with a smaller carbon footprint.
“Insect-based protein is a natural and tasty protein for our hens, and its use further reduces our carbon footprint,” said Virva Latostenmaa, who oversees chicken farming at the organic farm.
In addition to reducing the climate impact of organic egg production, the protein is believed to promote the health and wellbeing of laying hens, according to the three companies.
The companies reminded that the nutrition of laying hens is carefully regulated, with the options for protein sources particularly limited. Although insects are part of the natural diet of chickens, the use of insect-based protein in organic chicken feed is restricted to chicks and requires a special permit.
Human-friendly sustainable protein
Insects could become a staple also in human diets – as they long have in some societies – as the climate crisis necessitates a shift toward more sustainable nutrition, including proteins.
A University of Helsinki study, in fact, revealed last year that diets with novel and future foods such as insects and cultured meat and algae, as well as vegan diets with protein-rich plant-based alternatives, can have an up to 80 per cent smaller environmental impact than the average omnivore diet in Europe.
Reducing the amount of animal-based products by 80 per cent could reduce the impact by over 70 per cent, highlighted Forbes.
Insects are a staple of many cuisines internationally, but are yet to fully be embraced by Western palates.Adobe
There are many hurdles to such a profound shift in dietary habits, the researchers acknowledged: cultural acceptability, price accessibility, and flavour, taste and texture profiles. They estimated, however, that cultural acceptance could be fostered with positive information campaigns that call attention to the health, environmental and animal-welfare benefits of less meat-heavy diets.
They also pointed out that novel and future foods could help to establish a more resilient food system because of their ability to provide essential nutrition in the face of unforeseen disturbances.
The study was published in Nature Food.
Not letting bed bugs bite
Elsewhere, bedbugs made headlines recently at Paris Fashion Week, crawling anywhere from hotels and cinemas to accommodation and transport services, and raising concerns ahead of the upcoming Summer Olympics.
Finland’s Valpas has a solution for hotels: bed legs coated with a bug-attracting colour, sensors and traps. The legs not only trap the bed bugs without any pesticides, but also send an instant report to the service provider to enable the prevention of larger outbreaks.
“Bed bugs have become resistant to pesticide solutions. Leading entomologists project that as soon as 2028, they could become fully immune to all pesticides,” Martim Gois, CEO of Valpas, explained to TechEU.
The solution has already been adopted by hundreds of hotels in cities such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Zurich, Munich, Lisbon, and Madrid.