DENMARK – Arla Foods Ingredients has entered into a partnership with Enorm, the largest insect farm in Northern Europe, to leverage the upcycling power of insects and tackle food waste, particularly in the dairy industry.

The collaboration aims to transform delactosed permeate (DLP), a residual dairy stream generated during lactose production, into nutritious feed for black soldier fly larvae.

Traditionally, DLP is used for biogas production, but Arla Foods Ingredients seeks alternatives that align with the EU’s Waste Framework Directive, favoring reuse for animal feed. Enorm, which primarily provides material for animal feed, uses black soldier fly larvae for this purpose.

Arla Foods Ingredients has been working on the innovative solution of converting DLP into nutritious feed for black soldier fly larvae.

The process involves additional processing steps to meet animal by-product regulations, such as reducing the pH of DLP to below six for at least an hour.

Enorm is set to open a new facility in Flemming, Denmark, and is gearing up for full-scale production. Arla Foods Ingredients will increase its supply of DLP to Enorm to 15 truckloads per week starting in early 2024.

The new facility has the capacity to produce 100 tons of larvae daily, equivalent to over 10,000 tons of insect meal.

Sønke Møller, Senior Sales Developer at Arla Foods Ingredients, highlighted the reduction in food waste through this initiative, stating that an estimated 16% of food waste would be avoided by redirecting organic matter, including lactose, fat, and protein, to Enorm instead of being used for biogas production.

“Currently, Enorm primarily provides material for animal feed, but insects also offer potential as a healthy and sustainable source of protein for humans,” he said.

While addressing immediate needs, Møller emphasized that the initiative aligns with broader industry trends toward sustainability and upcycling practices.

Ongoing research and review of processes and production side-streams are part of Arla Foods Ingredients’ commitment to finding more opportunities for reducing food waste.

As sustainability gains importance in the food industry, initiatives like this collaboration contribute to a more circular and resource-efficient approach to handling by-products and reducing waste in the production chain.

“The food waste at our Danmark Protein facility is calculated on the basis of the volume of by-products sold to biogas customers. Additionally, there is a loss of protein, fat and lactose when cleaning the processing equipment, which goes to the effluent plant,” Møller noted.