The number of insect farms in Europe has grown significantly. Who are the top funded European insect farms?
The main driver of sales in the pet industry is pet food. However, with fierce competition for ingredients from the growing human sector, which requires the same nutrients, there is a need to find an alternative protein source. This has led to introducing protein dense insects into the feed market.
Offering higher levels of proteins and with minimal impact on the environment, insects are the solution to the pet food industry’s challenge.
A thriving European market
Today, Europe is home to some of the fastest growing insect farms in the world. One theory about Europe’s success is that after the BSE crisis – mad cow disease – Europe was quick to make swift changes (the feed band) that prohibited the use of animal derived proteins for farmed feed, unless an explicit exception was made.
However, the EU did eventually make compensations and uplifted the ban partially allowing certain insects in specific feeds. This led to the continuation and growth of insect farming in Europe.
Opposed to the insect farming in the rest of the world, where regulations on using animal proteins in feed are much lighter, and as such these farms face tougher competition entering the feed market than their European counterparts.
The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (Ipiff) has reported that their 50 insect farm members, mainly European based, produce more than 6,000 tons of insects. These results have enabled farms to approach investors and raise around $480 million (€424 million) in funding to date, according to the AgFunders Agrifood report (2018).
Whilst investors are antsy when it comes to investing in insect production for human food, pet food manufacturers have been able to showcase the value of the sustainable, cost effective and nutritious insect industry – and thus have gained a modest amount of investment.
The rat race for funding in the insect sector all started when AgriProtein was able to raise $105 million (€93 million) in equity. The UK/ South Africa startup raises black soldier flies and with the funding has been able to create the next generation of farms.
Highest funded European insect farms
Analysing the insect-based farming investment environment, Nanalyze, an investor forum, condensed a list of the top funded European insect farms from 2017:
Protix – The Netherlands
For the past 10 years Protix has farmed top quality insects for the chicken, aquaculture and pet industry. In 2017, they raised the bar for funding with $50.5 million (€45 million). Their new funded factory recently opened and is 10 times bigger. They also have their eyes on expansion abroad.
Ynsect – France
In February 2019, the French mealworm farmer raised $125 million (€110 million), which allows them to build the largest insect farm in France. Their new factory will have a production capacity of 20 tons per year.
Entocycle – UK
Entocycle has been able to raise $2.4 million (€2.1 million) to enhance their streamlined approach of automation combined with Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. It is also sustainably raising insects on pre-consumer food waste, like leftover malt from breweries and used grounds from coffee roasters.
Innova Feed – France
Raising an estimated $63 million (€56 million) InnovaFeed uses black soldier flies to create protein powder, oil, and fertiliser.