8:00 AM Oct 28 2022
caterpillar natureA family business specializing in pet food and wild animal feed, has launched a new range of natural coconut and butters for wild birds.
Brian and Debbie Mott founded Natures Grub in 2009 – initially as a way for Debbie to spend more time with their children.
It also gave Brian a chance to turn a lifelong hobby into a full-time job.
“I’ve kept large turtles that snap – and have done so to this day,” he said. “I was buying them food on eBay, and I was thinking there had to be an easier or more cost-effective way to do it.
“Quickly about six months ago, I was talking to suppliers in China and ordered a slab of dried insects.”
After they began operating from their overseas headquarters, the retailers’ interest led to Brian and Debbie buying a unit in Docking in North Norfolk. It also saw Bryan leave a major role on Morrison’s in December 2014.
The company now employs about 45 people at three locations – two in Fakenham and a 22,000-square-foot plant in Dereham. Revenue has grown from around £300,000 in 2015 to £4 million this year.
“Retail makes up about 50 percent of our income, and of the other 50 percent, most of it is private-brand manufacturing for companies like Beats at Home, Julie’s, and Beats Corner,” Brian said.
Natures Grub offers a range of nutritional supplements for pets and treats for dogs, rabbits, horses and chickens, along with specialty feeds for wildlife, exotics, reptiles and aquatic species – including pygmy hedgehogs, gliders, sugarfowl and wild birds.
Earlier this month, the company released a range of coconut and bird butter feeders made with the fat of black soldier fly larvae, which Brian believes are a first-in-class.
“No one else is doing it yet, but I’m sure they will at some point, as more and more farms of black soldier fly larvae appear,” he said. “I think we’ll all be eating bugs in 10 years.”
Brian explained that insect fat has health and environmental benefits compared to cow fat used in other products.
Traditional cattle need 10 kilograms of food to produce one kilogram of meat, while black soldier flies need one and a half kilograms of feed to produce the same amount.
“Methane is not produced by black soldier fly larvae – they use about a hundredth the amount of water. The environmental benefits, if nothing else, are enormous.
But there is also the logical and natural aspect that birds eat insects. “They don’t eat chicken, they don’t eat beef, they don’t eat pork,” Brian added. “It seems like a logical step to go directly to insect fat rather than using cow fat.”
Natures Grub is also set to open a bakery with a wood-burning oven in the next two months.
“The idea for the bakery is to be able to bake dog food, small animal treats, horse treats, biscuits, and bars,” Brian said.
“There are people who are already doing that, certainly in the small animal sector, but a lot of these companies are buying from Germany, so it would be nice to do something made and sourced in the UK.”
The bakery and grease production will be run by Garry Belton, who joined Natures Grub in 2020.
Brian concluded, “Like me, Gary has a history of working in a bakery, so he’s a perfect fit for the role.”
For more information visit www.naturesgrub.co.uk
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