Food ingredients 1st – Eco-friendly pest control firm partners with Dutch university to reduce fruit flies

23 augustus 2019


Eco-friendly pest control firm partners with Dutch university to reduce fruit flies

23 Aug 2019
Pests thrive in warm weather – fruit flies, ants and mosquitos to name a few. In the meantime, climatologists expect that Dutch summers will only get warmer. To tackle the problem, Wageningen University and Research (WUR) in the Netherlands and Fruit Fly Ninja have joined forces. The ultimate mission of the partnership is to make all environment-polluting pest control products obsolete.

The collaboration between the Wageningen knowledge institute and Fruit Fly Ninja has been set up to expand its line of non-toxic, environmentally-friendly pest control products. Some of its range is already sold across Dutch supermarkets and pharmacies. The collaboration comes through the University’s incubator StartLife, which allows Fruit Fly Ninja access to lab equipment and student researchers. Their current projects include eco-friendly mouse and ant solutions, as well as a poison-free mosquito oil to replace DEET.

“Public health is at stake here, especially regarding mice and rats. They spread many diseases. There’s a true outbreak going on in Europe due to more strict EU regulations,” company CEO Ferdinand van der Neut tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

The company began with its flagship product which catches fruit flies. The Fruit Fly Ninja targets fruit flies with a natural, non-toxic liquid in a smartly designed container. “It mimics a breeding and feeding place. The fruit flies love to crawl in, but then can’t find their way out. The system works completely mechanically, without active substances that kill the flies. The trap is made from biodegradable and recycled plastic and can be disposed of with the plastic waste,” says the company.

Van der Neut says that the biggest challenge was creating a fruit fly trap that used a green, food-grade alternative to what was currently on the market. “The warning signs on the other traps back then were pretty scary,” he says. The greatest difficulty, Van der Neut points out, was the complex production protocol to guarantee quality and shelf life compared to the synthetic liquids other brands use. However, he says, “we’re willing to take up that extra effort because it means the world of difference.”

“This first student project was a big success for the university, students and ourselves,” says Van der Neut. The goal was to make an ecological alternative to ant poison. The current ant solutions include spinosad, an insecticide based on chemical components that can be harmful to bee populations, among other things. A team of students at Wageningen University worked eight weeks almost full time, resulting in two winning concepts. Fruit Fly Ninja’s R&D will work on developing these further, starting next month.

“In four years, we have become the most used solution against fruit flies,” he adds. Several large grocery store chains in the Netherlands have picked up the Fruit Fly Ninja, which has led to the company’s growing success. The Fruit Fly Ninja is now available throughout the Netherlands, and the company is eyeing the Belgian market. The Australian market is also a big target for the “ninjas” since the seasons are reversed. When business is “cooling down” in Europe, it will just be heating up for the land down under.

Other products now on the market by the Fruit Fly Ninja include the Silverfish Ninja and the Plant Fly Ninja.

By Missy Green

Bron: Food ingredients 1st