Natures Grub, a family business specialising in pet foods and wild animal feeds, has launched a new range of natural suet coconuts and butters for wild birds.

Brian and Debbie Mott established Natures Grub in 2009 – initially as a way for Debbie to spend more time with their children.

It also gave Brian an opportunity to turn a lifetime hobby into a full-time job.

“I kept big snapping turtles – and I have done to this day,” he said. “I was buying food on eBay for them, and I was thinking there must be an easier or more cost-effective way of doing this.

“Fast forward about six months, I was talking to suppliers in China and I ordered a pallet of dried insects.”

Having started the business from their outhouse, interest from retailers led Brian and Debbie to acquire a unit in Docking in north Norfolk. It also saw Brian leave a senior role at Morrison’s in December 2014.

The company now employs around 45 people across three sites – two in Fakenham and a 22,000-sqft factory in Dereham. Revenue has grown from circa £300,000 in 2015 to £4 million this year.

The Comet: Natures Grub has launched a range of suet coconuts made from insect fat, which is more sustainable than beef fatNatures Grub has launched a range of suet coconuts made from insect fat, which is more sustainable than beef fat (Image: Natures Grub)
“Retail makes up about 50pc of our income, and of the other 50pc, most of that is own-label manufacturing for companies like Pets at Home, Jollyes, Pets Corner,” said Brian.

Natures Grub offers a range of pet supplements and treats for dogs, rabbits, equines and chickens, alongside specialist feed for wildlife, exotic, reptile and aquatic species – including pygmy hedgehogs, sugar gliders and wild birds.

Earlier this month, the company released a range of coconut feeders and bird butters made from the fat of black soldier fly larvae, which Brian believes is an industry first.

“Nobody else is doing it yet, but I'm sure they will at some point, as there are more and more black soldier fly larvae farms popping up,” he said. “I think we're all going to be eating insects in 10 years.”

Insect fat has both health and environmental benefits compared to the beef fat used in other products, Brian explained.

“Traditional cattle need 10 kilos of food to produce one kilo of meat, whereas black soldier flies require one-and-a-half kilos of feed to produce the same amount.
The Comet: Natures Grub has also launched a range of bird butters made from insect fatNatures Grub has also launched a range of bird butters made from insect fat (Image: Natures Grub)
“No methane is produced from black soldier fly larvae – and they use around one hundredth the amount of water. The environmental benefits, if nothing else, are massive.

“But there's also the logical, natural side that birds eat insects. They don't eat chicken, they don't eat beef, they don't eat pork,” Brian added. “It seemed a logical step to move straight into insect fat rather than using beef fat.”

Natures Grub is also due to open a bakery with a woodfired oven in the next couple of months.

“The idea of the bakery is to be able to bake dog treats, small animal treats, horse treats, biscuits and bars,” said Brian.

“There are already people doing it, certainly in the small animal sector, but a lot of those companies are buying from Germany, so it would be nice to do something that’s made and sourced in the UK.”

The bakery and suet production will be run by Garry Belton, who joined Natures Grub in 2020.

“Like myself, Garry has a history of working in a bakery, so is a perfect fit for the role,” Brian concluded.

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