Unconventional start-up idea
Ecofly is getting off to a flying start with larvae breeding in trays made by Greiner Assistec
Ecofly, a start-up from Upper Austria, uses insects to produce innovative feed for livestock. This is based on insect protein, which is widely consumed in the wild. The production process involves multiple stages and requires a very careful approach in each and every step. Ecofly’s founders have become specialists in this area and have now managed to convince investors from the Vivatis Group of their business idea’s merits. The start-up, which was founded in 2017 and is based in the town of Antiesenhofen, works on the specific aspects involved in researching, developing, and marketing innovative, automated insect breeding and processing systems for the production of sustainable feedstuffs.
Ideal infrastructure for upcycling
The Ecofly team, led by CEO Simon Weinberger, uses the larva of the black soldier fly to upcycle proteins into high-quality feed in a targeted manner. Appropriate plastic trays are required to breed these larvae for fish feed in a multi-stage process. This is not a task Greiner Assistec’s plastics specialists are used to performing on a day-to-day basis, especially given that this is a completely new type of plastic product. The larva of the black soldier fly (BSF) is used for the upcycling of proteins into a high-quality feed product. Ecofly’s fly larvae are exclusively fed with feed-grade by-products from the food industry. This guarantees a stable process and prevents adulterants from entering the mix. No additional heat source is required for the production of the fly larvae, making the black soldier fly breeding process highly space efficient. Up to a metric ton of insect protein can be produced on a single square meter every year.
We’ve been in contact with Ecofly regarding tray development and production since back in 2018. Here at Greiner Assistec, we were ultimately able to make a convincing impression with our new thermoforming system and the proposed two-cavity concept. Due to the machine size, we can manufacture using two cavities, reducing production costs in the process. An additional, crucial aspect for Ecofly was the use of reclaimed material. This project is unique because the trays used for the production of these high-quality feedstuffs are custom-made products that are not officially distributed by Greiner Assistec but produced exclusively for Ecofly.
High-quality BSF protein requires an ideal breeding environment
The Ecofly BSF protein is a high-quality protein source for fish and pets. In general, it stands out for its high biological value and excellent digestibility. More broadly, food production faces a variety of future challenges. The contrast between a well-functioning circular economy and increasing industrialization in the agricultural sector calls for innovative solutions. With this in mind, Ecofly’s technology can make a decisive contribution toward moving agriculture in a local and sustainable direction.
Exacting customer specifications
Ecofly knew exactly what it wanted for the breeding environment. The breeding facilities needed to span a total box-enclosed area of 10,000 m2 , and there were also ultra-precise specifications for the individual trays. The aim was for only the edges of the trays to come into contact with one another in Ecofly’s shelving system. In addition, Ecofly wanted to have trays that were as large as possible yet still saved space during transport and could be stacked inside each other.
We had very precise ideas about what the trays should look like. First of all, we wanted to have the best possible design in terms of color, weight, and dimensions, as they would need to fit into our shelving system. And we also wanted everything to come from a single source, from one supplier and partner – from the development of the trays to delivery of the massproduced products. We were impressed by how close Greiner Assistec would be to us, their quality and service, and the ability to have a single point of contact at the company. Those factors significantly influenced our decision.
Perfect reusable trays – mass produced by a single supplier
Greiner Assistec is now playing a significant role in Ecofly’s sustainable feed production technology – from component design to delivery of the mass produced trays in the agreed batch sizes. The CAD construction of the trays, moldmaking, and sampling have now been completed, and mass production has been underway at Greiner Assistec since the beginning of October 2020.