Maltento’s sustainable Black Soldier Fly factory opens a world-class laboratory

No flies on them. Dean Smorenburg and Dominic Malan of Moltento have moved with pace to be part of the changing world of agri-tech advancements. Picture: Supplied

No flies on them. Dean Smorenburg and Dominic Malan of Moltento have moved with pace to be part of the changing world of agri-tech advancements. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 25, 2024


The pesky household fly that everyone hates has given a South African company a bit of a leg-up in the fast-paced world of agri-tech by turning them into feed for animals.

Not only are the flies bred for protein in pet and fish food, but the poop from the larvae is also used to enrich soil as part of a global push for sustainable development and protection of the environment.

Agri-tech company Malteno has announced the opening of its new hi-tech laboratory in Cape Town which is transforming South Africa’s recycling landscape by breeding black soldier flies and putting them to good use.

By positioning themselves as a global leader in functional ingredients, they are not only advancing scientific knowledge, but also contributing to the development of sustainable solutions for various industries.

Inspired by insects and nature, Maltento is a sustainable functional ingredient business that offers differentiated and tailored ingredient solutions for the pet food, aquaculture, and commercial animal feed sectors.

“With this investment, Maltento has taken a significant stride to disrupt the status quo in the pet food industry, by pioneering a new ingredient that holds the promise of being undeniably better, far more sustainable and scientifically superior for our pets and the planet,” shares Ryan Ponquett, lead scientist at Maltento.

This announcement follows the positive validation trial for Maltento’s PALATE+ product in the US market - proving that a South African company can compete in foreign markets.

“Our product development continues to accelerate at unprecedented levels, and we are proud to fly the South African flag so prominently in such a competitive global arena,” adds Dominic Malan, commercial director at Maltento.

Malan said the achievement was the product of research and dedication over years.

“We started this operation in a small, dark office - before that, Dean (Smorenburg) was breeding the Black Soldier flies in his bathroom at home. Standing in a world-class laboratory, fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, is a real privilege. It is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and resilience of our team at Maltento and any other South African business owners and visionaries today.”

Maltento's commitment is to harness South Africa's pool of highly skilled scientists and engineers. By recognising and leveraging the country's strengths in sustainability practices and innovation within the insect biotechnology sector, Maltento is not only advancing its own goals, but also contributing to the growth of the local talent pool and economy.

Creating permanent and purposeful jobs for bio-science graduates in Cape Town further solidifies their dedication to fostering talent and making a positive impact on the community.

This initiative to transform South Africa's recycling landscape through the breeding of Black Soldier Flies is groundbreaking. By utilising agro-processing waste, such as spent grains from the beer industry, to produce high-performance proteins and oils for pet and aquaculture feed, they are not only addressing environmental challenges, but also contributing to the sustainable development of the agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

This innovative approach demonstrates Maltento's commitment to leveraging insect biotechnology for both environmental and economic benefits.

It's a prime example of how creative solutions can have a positive impact on multiple fronts simultaneously.

“At the moment, we are using spent brewers’ grain as feed that is ingested by fly larvae at our Fly Farm in Cape Town.

“The agro-processing waste actually enriches the larvae’s natural ability to produce functional proteins, healthy fats, and essential amino acids, making mature larvae an ideal protein substitute for the meat derivatives you find in pet food today.

Beyond protein, soldier fly larvae also produce frass as a useful by-product through their excrement of the spent brewery grains. Now frass also holds substantial nutritional value and serves as an excellent composted soil amendment product, capable of enhancing soil fertility, building plant immunology, promoting nutrient cycling, and improving soil structure,” said Ponquett.

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