FoodTech Startup Of The Week: Biteback Insect

FoodTech Startup Of The Week: Biteback Insect

06-Dec-2016 by Gianmarco Fratangeli

When it comes to the climate change debate, palm oil is definitely one of the hottest topics. Given the huge impact of this vegetable oil’s production on the environment, especially on the rainforests of countries such as Indonesia, the food industry is scrambling for new substitutes in order to fend off the mounting criticism coming from governments, environmental groups and even increasing numbers of consumers.

Enter Biteback Insect Oil. The company, led by a couple of Indonesian 20 years old guys, has figured out a revolutionary process to produce a better substitute.

The problem

Unless produced in a sustainable way, palm oil leads to an intense deforestation. Global palm oil demand has been running with a CAGR of 7.3% from 2014 to 2022 (source: Global news wire) arriving at a consumption of 128.20 million tons per year.

But is this palm oil produced in a sustainable way or not? Not really. Only 16% of total palm oil production is sustainable and according to the WWF’s scorecard, most of the companies in the food industry are not using sustainable palm oil at all (we are proud to mention our partner Barilla as one of the most sustainable companies with a score of 8/9).

So, is there any possible way to solve the problem? Are we really doomed to a future of massive palm oil induced deforestation? Of course not, and here at Startupbootcamp FoodTech we are betting on a really innovative startup which has a solution at hand: Biteback Insect.

The solution

Directly from Indonesia, Biteback Insect is the first producer in the world for an insect based substitute of palm oil. The story of this company starts with the founders, Mush’ab Nursantio (21) and Ifdhol Syawkoni (23), realizing that insects represent a perfect substitute for palms to produce a high-quality oil in terms of properties and productivity.

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Despite the high yields of palm oil, insect-based oil records a 37x outcome per hectare. In addition, harvesting insects takes only 3 months while palm takes 5 years, which implies that producers can reduce production time by 95% and be able to deliver higher quantities of the product even more times to consumers during a whole year.

Simply put, their innovative production process is basically divided into 3 major steps: drying, extracting and refining. Once insects are collected, they start drying them from all the water in order to start the process of fat extraction. As the last step, they refine the fats to obtain the oil ready to be bottled and used for food purposes.

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And this does not end here.

Indeed, while the edibility of insects is pretty well known, not much is known of this food’s properties. Insects are nutritious just as meat and fish. Insect oil is plenty of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and presents also a high percentage of key fatty acids like omega 3,6, and 9.

Biteback, already a Thought For Food finalist, is now part of our 2017 cohort where they are working hard to get the product soon on the mass market. Biteback is now focusing on improving and scaling the farming facility to set the basis to satisfy an increasing demand. Their mission is catching the attention of several strategic players and they are confident to arrive at our Demo Day on March 10th, 2017 with serious numbers.

To sum up, tackling a real problem discussed globally for several years is never easy but soon, thanks to Biteback Insect, all food companies will be able to adopt a solution that goes beyond the brutal practice of deforestation without having to give up profitability.

If you are interested in the evolution of this startup, do not hesitate to drop us an e-mail at foodtech@startupbootcamp.org.

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