HermetiaPro Offers Growing Solutions
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
KINGSBURG, CA - It’s no secret our industry is constantly looking at ways to innovate while preserving precious resources. One company, however, is rocking the boat in a unique way that provides access to quality nutrients while helping eliminate your waste.
HermetiaPro, co-founded by six operators with varying backgrounds in our industry like veterans Paul Parriera and Vernon Peterson to fourth-generation farmer John Paul, has found a way to cut your costs in waste management, mitigate your footprint, and provide you with a fertile supplement for your soil. All with insects.
“If you had told me five, even three years ago, I’d be working with bugs,” John laughs as he explains to me the innovation he and a friend, Evan Selander, stumbled upon before sparking the idea that became HermetiaPro in 2017. “We are eliminating waste on the surface and turning it into a useful compost, while also producing an alternative protein for poultry, aquaculture, and pet food. We are working with the almond industry now and other growers, and we’ve even found that what we produce can be a great natural protein source. Now we are looking at what we can do in the agricultural center.”
Barely making its second revolution around the sun, John tells me the company is already seeing keen interest in Earth-conscious Monterey, and since his background is in treefruit, that is the first thing he can think of as to what this newest resource can amplify.
“We are working with almond hull inclusion and other clean grain ingredients right now, which has been a huge success for us. Our sight is aimed at offering this to all commodities—stonefruit growers, citrus, even cut down vegetable waste,” he tells me. “We have brought a factory design to provide a turnkey solution to cut waste down. We can produce as much protein in one acre of indoor vertical insect farming as you can in 700 acres of conventional growing. That’s 700 acres of water, CO2 emissions, and other resources and expenses that you are saving.”
And because we are in the midst of a completely transparent conversion, where the more you can account for the better, John tells me of steps he and the team have taken that registers as ready for organic-level lines to show for their insects.
“We are one of three in the United States breeding this insect on a mass scale. One of two in the world that are commercial BSF egg producers, aiming at helping grow the Black Soldier Fly industry by providing a source and supply of Black Soldier Fly Eggs for any company that is looking to rear this insect for their own production purposes. This insect is a huge opportunity to cut down on food waste, and we understand how that might sound. We have built proprietary software that encompasses an entire process where we can track the family lineage of the larvae genetics, inputs of what the larva consume, and all kinds of tracking abilities to provide transparency and show traceability step by step of our process to answer any food safety questions that might be asked,” John shares.
He has his own background in our industry that immediately makes clear his deep understanding of needing to ensure food safety and method traceability.
A fourth-generation treefruit farmer, John began his career at Trader Joe’s, where he fell in love with produce. He moved on to Kroger and Homegrown Organic, gaining a wealth of knowledge and a deeper understanding of organic growing before going on to learn more about water and waste solutions in California.
Like he said, working with insects was a surprise and a total plot twist in the career path, and one that seems to be a fast-climbing trajectory.
“We are seeing production and interest rise, in California particularly, which is very exciting for us, and we are currently receiving feedback from growers on how we can help incorporate our method into their facilities,” he assures me.
This is certainly a practice I’m excited to keep an eye on as our industry begins to pass the torch to the next generation of growers, suppliers, buyers, and consumers.