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Using Food Waste and Eliminating the Carbon Footprint of Pet Food through the Black Soldier Fly

Transform the pet food system with up-cycled, sustainable protein.

Photo of Gina Myers
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

SuperPet Foods

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Berkeley, CA

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

USA

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

United States, Bay Area – Covers an area of approximately 1600 square miles.

What country is your selected Place located in?

USA

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The Bay Area is a region where innovation is flourishing, and therefore a good fit to develop a new vision for the pet food industry. Moreover, this area has a high density of pet owners who care about the environment. There are more dogs than children in San Francisco. According to the American Community Survey, in 2016 there were about 115,000 children under 18 living in the city. At the same time, San Francisco Animal Care and Control estimated there were about 120,000 to 150,000 dogs in the city. Transforming the way these pets are fed represents a tremendous opportunity to bring a positive impact to the environment as pet food is estimated to be responsible for a quarter of the environmental impacts of meat production in terms of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate and pesticide use. We are current students at UC Berkeley, which makes it geographically sensible for us to reach the Bay Area with our food system vision.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The SF Bay Area is a unique region where people tend to be highly educated, receptive to novel ideas, and have a concern for their social and environmental impact. Approximately seven million inhabitants reside in the Bay Area, which offers a mix of an urban lifestyle intertwined with unparalleled hiking trails and nature. This leads to a high level of consciousness for the environment and a general enthusiasm for the natural world.

Furthermore, because of its tradition of innovation and its role as a hub for new ideas from around the world, the region is exposed to some incredibly talented and well-educated people. The Bay Area is a hotspot for large tech companies and some of the most prominent universities, meaning that the region draws and maintains intellectual and entrepreneurial individuals. As a result, the population is affluent compared to the rest of the US.. Individuals are willing to use this buying power to buy more sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The effects of everyday purchasing habits is apparent in a number of ways, and California is the “most vegan” state in the US according to Health IQ.

Finally, as aforementioned, the region is well-known for its pets. Californians own the most dogs of any state in the U.S., spend the most money with their pets. Nearly 40% of California households own at least one dog and these numbers continues to grow.

We believe the opportunity to revolutionize the pet food industry in the Bay Area, a region of highly educated, innovative individuals with a concern for the environment, is tremendous.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

4200

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

7000000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Pet food is estimated to be responsible for a quarter of the environmental impacts of meat production in terms of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate and pesticide use. With an increasing human and pet population and a growing trend toward a higher content and quality of protein used for pet food, the negative environmental impacts will continue to broaden. Major players in the pet food industry are not offering pet food made with sustainable protein sources, leaving a growing and pressing environmental problem unsolved. Moreover, the majority of pet food currently are not considered healthy with only 21% of pet food formulas considered healthy currently. This is due to the fact that the majority of pet food is currently made with meat byproducts and is bulked with fillers. 

Even though a regulatory system exists to protect pets and ensure they are adequately fed, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) does not issue approvals for commercially available pet food. This association provides guidelines to pet food producers on the nutrients and labeling that should be included.

The US population is becoming more educated and knowledgeable about the environmental impact of their purchases. In a study conducted by Unilever with over 20,000 adults, a third of US consumers now prioritize purchasing from brands based on their social and environmental impact. Combining the shift towards younger pet owners and trend toward sustainability in this demographic, we see a clear opportunity for pet foods that provide a sustainable option to consumers.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Leveraging alternative protein sources to produce sustainable, environmentally friendly and highly nutritious pet food is the answer to prevent the tremendous impact of the current pet food system. An example of this is using alternative protein sources such as the Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL). A truly remarkable insect, capable of converting food waste into high quality protein and fat with incredible efficiency, and an indetectable carbon footprint, these insects hold massive potential to re-imagine the food system. By up-cycling pre-consumer waste into an extremely rich foodstuff that does not compete with other food sources as livestock do by, consumption of the BSFL are integral to our vision for an improved and sustainable food system. In a single acre of land, BSFL can produce 1-2 million pounds of protein, compared with less than 200 pounds produced by cows per acre of the same farmland. In addition, livestock are major drivers of methane production, feed and fuel consumption, and water use and pollution. The production of BSFL not only solves issues of food waste management, but simultaneously offers a high quality, digestible and palatable source of protein for pet foods.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Our vision is a world in which pet food is not only produced sustainably, but in a manner that is net-positive for the environment. We already see this trend emerging in human food with brands such as Impossible and Beyond skyrocketing and, as millennials which account for the majority of pet owners, tend to humanize their pets, we believe this trend can be mirrored into the pet food industry. The Bay Area would be a starting point to bring this innovation to the world, as it has with numerous others. We envision a new Bay Area in which pet owners have a clear offering of sustainable, nutritious and delicious pet food to feed their beloved pets.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision for pet owners in the Bay Area in 2050 is one of complete sustainability. All pet foods will be produced sustainably and the black soldier fly will be a ubiquitous player in the arena. Pre-consumer food waste will be drastically reduced, and that which is still generated will be completely up-cycled to valued commodities. Livestock raised for food will be a fraction of what they are today, as demand from the pet food and human food industries will be minimal. A sustainable future in food will be modeled in the Bay Area and emulated elsewhere.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Photo of Constanza Castano
Team

Hi, Gina Myers ! Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!

Thank you for reminding us of this important and often forgotten topic. I can see the need to make it part of our food systems. I encourage you to find like-minded Visionaries throughout this platform to exchange insights, feedback, and possible collaborations.

Please make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision. You can update your submission until 5:00 PM EST.

Here is the link to the pocket guide: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o8WGMus6-V8GywWdlNwmCpk7I1fMVzcQ/view

All the very best for the Prize!

Warm regards,

Constanza