Future Positive Capital and Bpifrance Ecotechnologies have led a $15.2m Series B funding round for Ynsect, the insect-based feed producer announced this week.
The funding brings the cumulative amount Ynsect has raised from private and public sources to $37 million, which the company said represents the largest-ever investment into the sub-sector focused on the breeding of insects for animal feed.
The funding – which includes participation from existing investors Emertec, Demeter, Vis Vires New Protein Capital and Business Angels – will be used to increase capacity at Ynsite, Ynsect’s pilot center in Jura, France, set to become the world’s largest such facility, with the capacity to produce at least 20,000 metric tons of insect protein a year.
“This investment shows our long-term commitment to finding and supporting companies who are tackling intractable global challenges head on,” said Sofia Hmich, founder of Future Positive Capital, in a statement.
Ynsect’s main product is Tenebrio Molitor Protein (TMP), a de-fatted protein meal made of farmed mealworm larvae that is fed to livestock and pets and aimed at addressing the growing global demand for meat and fish. TMP contains 72 protein content of Ynsect’s which is the same protein level as that of the highest-grade fish meal, said Ynsect CEO Antoine Hubert.
While insects account for a significant share of the diets of fish, birds and mammals in the wild, farmed animals mostly consume genetically-modified soya, grains, poultry feather meal and fish meal, which is both “unnatural and unsustainable,” Hubert said. It is also growing greenhouse gas emissions, causing the collapse in oceanic biodiversity and anxieties over food safety and security, he added, singling out fish meal.
“Fish meal is derived from catches of small fish, the global supply of which is under duress due to overfishing,” he said. “In turn, that’s causing severe depletion of ocean biodiversity, and leading to food safety concerns due to the high content of heavy metals which bio-accumulate within dwindling fish stocks.”
Ynstitute, Ynsect’s headquarters and R&D center, is the largest private research facility in the field worldwide, and the company has the largest patent portfolio in the sector globally, he added.
South Africa’s AgriProtein, also a maker of insect-based protein feed, as well as extruded oil and fertilizers, recently raised $17.5 million in capital, bringing its total private funds raised to roughly $30 million, suggesting growing investor interest in the sector.