One of the world's largest farms producing insects for use in animal feed has opened in the Netherlands.
Dutch King Willem Alexander attended the opening of the Protix plant and donned gloves to run his hand through a container of larvae.
The company's new €45 million-facility is located in the town of Bergen Op Zoom, near the Belgian border.
The 14,000-square-metre plant produces environmentally friendly protein used in pet food and fed to egg-laying chickens. Larvae of the Black Soldier Fly, known for its rapid growth, are produced on a base of plant waste under artificial light. At harvest time, the larvae are shaken free, washed, and ground into a paste, CEO Kees Aarts explained.
European law currently prohibits the use of animal proteins in feed mixes for livestock and poultry intended for human consumption, a legacy of measures taken to prevent mad cow disease. Protix is one of several firms lobbying for an exception to that rule for insect protein, which is not linked to the disease.