Wilbur-Ellis Invests In Industrialized Mealworms

Beta Hatch is a Seattle, Washington-based company working to introduce insect production as a protein source in animal feed.
( Beta Hatch )

Beta Hatch is a Seattle, Washington-based company working to introduce insect production as a protein source in animal feed. The company has raised $1.6 million including a recent investment from Cavallo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis.

Founded in 2015 by Dr. Virginia Emery, Beta Hatch develops insect-rearing technology that converts organic waste directly into high-value proteins, oils and nutrients for agriculture, enabling insects to cost-effectively meet the global scale of demand for plant and animal nutrients.

Targeting the poultry meal market, containing 56% protein and 33% fat, Beta Hatch’s mealworms could majorly disrupt the fishmeal market. The company uses patent-pending equipment, trade secret process and unique genetic stock, to produce the mealworms, which feed on organic byproducts that would reportedly otherwise occupy a landfill.

“We are delighted to be working with Wilbur-Ellis as one of the industry leaders in animal products and fertilizers,” says Emery. “Wilbur-Ellis’ market leadership will be invaluable as we develop the emerging insect industry as a new part of the food system. Similarly, Wilbur-Ellis’ connections to supply chains and customers will allow us to make the most impact in animal feed and agriculture.”

“To say that Beta Hatch’s technology and growth capacity is impressive would be an understatement,” says Wilbur-Ellis Feed, LLC President Andrew Loder. “At Wilbur-Ellis, we are always looking for not only new and innovative ways to approach the feed industry, but new and innovative ways to grow our business as well. This is fundamental to our growth strategy and innovation vision. Beta Hatch’s technology will allow our partners access to a fresh, year-round protein supply that is both sustainable and environmentally-friendly. It’s a win for us and a win for our customers.”

“This round of fundraising will allow us to build a precommercial facility where we can demonstrate the full processing capacity of our system and design a commercial facility. Within a few years, we will be producing several tons of product each day,” says Emery, who has a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley and over 12 years of experience working with insects.

An additional product for the company will be frass—insect manure, which can be used as a complete organic fertilizer for specialty crops. As its partnership with Beta Hatch grows, Wilbur-Ellis will look for ways to collaborate with Beta Hatch in its agribusiness as well.