A former banker is betting on insect-based dog biscuits as the next big thing in animal feed

Go over plant-based burgers, Insect-based pet food is the new focus on reducing the use of animal proteins to feed the world, whether you have two or four legs.

Sydney entrepreneur Shaun Eislers was a former banker before launching his startup BuggyBix, a combination of climate and ag technology, using insects – black soldier fly lava – as the primary protein in animal feed.

“As I sat with my wife at the local dog park, it dawned on me that the fast-growing pet market and the tendency to feed pets with human-quality meat proteins exacerbated the strain on our food system,” he said.

“When I dug a little deeper, I learned about the beneficial nutritional qualities and beneficial environmental suggestions that edible insects could provide. They are a great source of protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent pet food.

Black soldier flies exist globally and are increasingly used in animal feed and waste recycling – last year Melbourne startup Bardee raised $ 5 million in start-up capital to convert food waste into insect protein and fertilizer.

They are harmless to humans and are not considered pests or carriers and are a protein-rich food source.

When Eislers set out to establish BuggyBix five years ago, he commissioned an independent market study to see how the idea would go down with pet owners, and in recent years he has noticed a shift in favor of his idea. He also engaged experts at Western Sydney University (WSU) to analyze different feed substrates and their impact on the nutritional profile of the black soldier fly and mealworm to shape the design of BuggyBix dry food lines for dogs and cats.

“We were fortunate that the WSU Food Science department is one of the most well-equipped laboratories in Australia,” she said.

“Black soldier fly larvae have a beneficial nutritional profile and are hypoallergenic, which means they are good for pets that may have allergies to traditional proteins such as beef, pork or lamb.”

Eislers was also focused on the environmental benefits.

“For example, depending on production techniques, per kilogram of protein, black soldier fly larvae require only four square meters of soil compared to about 50 square meters for poultry,” he said.

“They also produce lower levels of greenhouse gases and use about one-sixth of the water.”

His next step was to tackle supply in an incipient sector. BuggyBix is ​​also in a race with the Swedish food technology startup Petgood, which is looking to launch its insect-based animal feed range in Australia towards the end of this year, in collaboration with a WA-based supplier.

“The industry is only now reaching a point where stable supply at a commodity price point becomes available,” Eislers said.

And now he is working with AgriFutures growAG to help him find investors, wholesalers and distributors for BuggyBix

“In the short term, we are focused on domestic distribution opportunities with the major pet food retailers and online channels,” he said.

“We are also exploring the possibilities of expanding the distribution of BuggyBix products to the Southeast Asian markets. The growAG team continues to offer invaluable support and ensures that our work is showcased and shared with curated audiences.”