Food-tech company Divaks selects Bühler to develop first industrial-scale yellow mealworm plant

A rendering of Divaks’s plant. When completed, it will span an area of 10,000 sq m

Lithuanian insect producer, Divaks, has selected Bühler to build its first commercial-scale yellow mealworm plant. Scheduled to go into operation in 2025, the plant will produce up to 15,000 tonnes of sustainable insect-derived products annually. Bühler will plan and execute the plant, as well as provide solutions for the entire supply chain.

Following the establishment of its pilot facility in May 2022, Divaks has taken a step towards its first industrial-scale yellow mealworm plant. Divaks’ site, which is located in Lithuania’s Marijampolė free economic zone, spans an area of 10,000 sq m. Encouraged by the opportunities in this market, the company expects to double its production in the new facility by 2030.

In the new plant, Divaks will produce yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor), which is an environmentally friendly, nutritious protein source that can be used in meat alternatives, sports nutrition, snacks, and confectionery as well as premium pet food. The residue from the mealworm production (or insect frass) will be utilised as organic fertiliser, as it contributes to healthier soils, fostering a circular economy approach.

Advanced technology

As the technology provider for the plant, Bühler will be responsible for all process technology, which will include feedstock preparation to provide safe, palatable, and nourishing feed to the larvae, and a fully automated larvae growth system with climate control. Furthermore, Bühler will provide the processing line to transform the harvested larvae into textured insect proteins (TIP), insect protein concentrates (IPC), and other specialised food ingredients.

Divaks CEO and co-founder, Kęstutis Lipnickas, said: “This is a huge step forward for Divaks as we work to establish ourselves as global leaders in high-quality insect-derived ingredients for human nutrition. Bühler will deliver the state-of-the art technology we need, allowing us to focus on the most important activities: market development and creating sustainable products that excel in nutritional and functional qualities.”

Andreas Baumann, head of market segment insect technology at Bühler, added: “We are delighted to have been chosen to provide a full-scope solution for Divaks’ yellow mealworm production site. It reinforces Bohler’s commitment to ambitious targets that will help to mitigate climate change and build a more sustainable food system.”

Sustainable protein

Research shows that there is a growing need for sustainable protein sources to meet the demands of an expanding global population. The alternative proteins market has experienced growth in recent years and, while it has so far been dominated by the plant-based sector, insects offer many advantages.

Yellow mealworms – recognised as safe for human consumption by the European Commission – provide a complete protein source with all essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. At the same time, commercial insect farming is considered to have a low environmental footprint, requiring minimal water, energy, and land resources. It also supports circular food systems, with insect bioconversion potentially allowing for around a third of the EU’s annual food waste to be safely upcycled.

Lipnickas added: “Edible insects have a key role to play as we move toward a more resilient and sustainable food system. Our new facility will help food brands tap into this fast-growing, high-potential sector with high-quality protein ingredients for premium food products.”

Divaks, founded in 2020, has approached the closing stages of its Series A funding round. It has already secured a substantial part of its EUR 67 million target but remains open to new investors.