Víur, farmed insects, has wound down its operations.
Víur was started in 2014 around the idea of farming the larvae of black soldier fly for utilizing underused by-products from food production for fish farming feed. Many other options for utilizing insects in Iceland were also considered. The company was founded by Gylfi Ólafsson and Sigríður Gísladóttir.
When the project started, there were many unknowns, both in terms of legal framework, biological properties, technical solutions and market conditions. The last two years have been used to fill in the blanks with the result that the idea is neither economical nor bio-economical.
The main reasons are four. First, the EU’s regulatory framework is still under construction and will likely exclude many of our potential waste streams. Secondly, we now have a better view of the technical and biological hurdles that need to be overcome in order to make the venture worthwhile. Third is the lack of sizeable reliable underutilized high-quality waste streams in Iceland. Lastly, insects for human consumption are unlikely to become a big enough market niche in the coming years.
At its peak, three employees worked at Víur in its test facilities in Bolungarvík. Biologist Aron Dalin Jónasson closed the facilities down in late October, by sending larvae for testing purposes within a research project funded by Nordic Innovation.
Hólar University College has taken over the fly colony and much of the equipment. The college intends to use the flies for testing purposes, mainly as part of its engagement in the United Nations’ Fisheries Training Program.
„That pretty much closes the circle,“ Sigríður says. „The project started at the UN and ends at the UN, as the idea was born following the famous insect report by the FAO from 2013.“
In the coming months, Víur will publish a report on its learnings, and the reasons for the close-down. Until then, feel free to contact us for further info.