Paul van den Berg

Marba | Paul van den Berg



Apeldoorn is home to the oldest mealworm farm in the Netherlands and the second to oldest farm in Europe. Since 1938, Marba has grown mealworms at various locations within the Apeldoorn municipality, with the last 40 years at their farm on the Gladsaxe. Back then, their customers were bird owners and other small livestock holders who used mealworms to feed their animals. The packages were transported by cargo bike to Van Gend en Loos. Today, Marba is one of the largest mealworm producers in the Netherlands.

The name mealworm is a misnomer; it is not a worm but an insect. What we see as mealworms are actually the larvae of the mealworm beetle. Mealworm farming has a long and unusual history. Although it may not look hard at first, few farmers last long in the mealworm farming business. Marba’s extensive expertise and quality have allowed the company to thrive over the years.

Their mealworms are sold as live larvae to the professional market, mostly small and large wholesalers and retailers. They sell the mealworms to tropical bird, garden bird and reptile owners. Farming mealworms is a Dutch speciality. Half of the twenty farms in Europe are located in the Netherlands, which explains the big export market for mealworms. A large part of this export goes to countries with a long fishing tradition. Mealworms make fine bait for fishing trout and salmon, and salmon and trout fishing are highly popular in the Scandinavian countries, the UK, and the US. The worms are usually transported together with the flower export by air freight to the US.

Marba is one of the largest mealworm producers in the Netherlands. Each week, some 750 to 1000 kilos are sold. That is a lot of mealworms when you realise that one kilogram contains 6,000 mealworms.

Mealworm farming is moving steadily into the spotlight, primarily because of the interest in mealworms for human consumption; mealworms are a healthy food source with their high protein content. This also provides opportunities for the market. With an increase in suppliers, supply and demand can be more evenly matched. Through close collaboration between suppliers, product loss can be prevented, which is beneficial for the sustainability of mealworm farming in turn. Sustainability is also one of the core values of Marba.  The entire business runs on electricity instead of gas, and the treated mealworm manure is sold as an excellent natural fertiliser for gardens and lawns.

Export countries: Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, UK & US