Beta Hatch wins funding for mealworm farming

Mealworms can provide the protein for animal feed. (Beta Hatch Photo)

Thar’s money in them thar mealworms!

At least that’s what Cavallo Ventures is counting on. The venture capital arm of the Wilbur-Ellis agricultural product distribution firm says it’s providing seed-round backing to Beta Hatch, a Seattle-based startup that grows mealworms for animal feed.

Beta Hatch is developing a proprietary process that feeds the worms organic waste, and cultivates critters that contain 56 percent protein and 33 percent fat. The company, founded by entomologist Virginia Emery in 2015, says its process requires minimal water and produces protein at 5,000 times the per-acre yield of soy.

The process offers an alternative to fishmeal, which is currently a favored source of protein for animal feed — typically, for feeding poultry, pigs and farmed fish. In addition to the protein-rich feedstock, the manure from mealworms (technically known as frass) can be used as an organic fertilizer for specialty crops.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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