Eating insects will be the new normal soon! Entomophagy, the act of eating insects is all set to bring about a substantial change in the production of food. As per a report, in Europe, food consumption is claimed to account for nearly 30% of the overall greenhouse gas emissions. Among this, meat has a higher carbon footprint than plant-based food.
Insect-focused foodtech startups in Europe
The harmful environmental effects of meat production and animal farming have spurred interest in insects, which is an effective alternative and sustainable food source. Unlike cattle, insects can be bred in massive numbers sans a large volume of resources such as land, water, or feed.
Besides being more resource-efficient, insects have almost 60% protein – chicken has 43% and beef has 54% protein – high levels of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. The commonly used insects in food tech are meat worms, black soldier fly, crickets, and grasshoppers.
Given that insects can be a great source of protein in the food industry for both animals and humans, here is a list of 10 fast-growing insect-focused food tech startups in Europe that are working towards realising a sustainable and circular economy, as sourced from Dealroom.
Founder/s: Alexis Angot, Fabrice Berro, Antoine Hubert, Jean Gabriel Levon
Founded year: 2011
Based out of Paris, Ÿnsect is a global leader in insect breeding and their transformation into premium ingredients for plant and animal nutrition. The startup assures to develop a more sustainable alternative of protein sources including soy, which takes up large amounts of soil, land, and water resources to produce. Since 2016, this French startup has been operating a vertical farm and is building a second unit in Poulainville called Ÿnfarm, which will become the largest insect farm in the world with an aim of over 100,000 tons per year.
Earlier this month, Ÿnsect raised a notable €190.6M in a Series C extension round. This latest funding round was an extension of its Series C round. Astanor Ventures led the round, along with LA-based Upfront Ventures and Robert Downey Jr.‘s FootPrint Coalition.
Founder/s: David Drew, Jason Drew
Founded year: 2008
UK-based AgriProtein is a leading fly farming and insect technology startup. It uses organic food waste as feedstock to raise black soldier flies and larvae. These are processed into high-protein animal feed for livestock, aquaculture, and pet sectors. AgriProtein’s industrial-scale bio-conversion process takes organic waste streams from farms, restaurants, supermarkets, and factories and recycles them into useful products. With the circular economy strategy, the company plays a role in minimising food waste.
Founder/s: Clément Ray, Guillaume Gras, Aude Guo, Bastien Oggeri
Founded year: 2016
InnovaFeed is a biotech startup involved in the production of a new source of protein from insect rearing (Hermetia illucens), especially for animal feed and aquaculture. The company’s model lets them place insects at the heart of their agri-food system. Its insect rearing process is deployed on an industrial scale in order to resolve the strain on natural resources and the necessity for a more responsive and sustainable way. InnovaFeed provides natural and sustainable protein for the fish-farming sector at a competitive price.
Protix Biosystems (Netherlands)
Founder/s: Kees Aarts
Founded year: 2009
Dongen-based Protix is a company that produces insects for sustainable meat, fish, and eggs. It breeds larvae from the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) and processes them into sustainable ingredients like proteins and lipids. These nutrients are used by Protix’s customers as ingredients for animal and fish feed. These ingredients, the company claims, are more sustainable than soy or fishmeal.
According to the company, organic waste from the food industry serves as feed for the insects of Protix. In turn, the insects are used as food sources in various feeds for fish, chickens, and other animals. Protix claims that in this way the company is able to close the food cycle; food residues are reused and returned to the food chain in a safe and truly circular system. As per the company, using insects, as an alternative source of protein, helps prevent overfishing and deforestation for soy cultivation.
Founder/s: Syrine Chaalala, Mohamed Gastli
Founded year: 2015
nextProtein was launched to help tackle land and resource scarcity by using insect protein as feedstock. The company produces insect-based protein with a negligible carbon footprint at a much lower cost and with a nutritional value that is equivalent to that of traditional protein sources. The process followed by nextProtein is EU-approved to be used as pet food and aquaculture and is suitable to be used as feedstock for the pork and poultry industries.
Founder/s: Heidi De Bruin
Founded year: 2015
Protifarm, a Dutch agri-tech startup has built vertical farms and processing facility in the Netherlands to produce sustainable ingredients made from insects for the food industry. The ingredients contain highly digestible proteins with essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, fibre, and healthy fats. These scalable vertical farms help Protifarm minimise the global footprint in an efficient way. In addition to being sustainable, these protein sources require relatively lesser water, land, and feed than other alternatives.
Founder/s: Jean-François Kleinfinger
Founded year: 2013
Poitiers-based NextAlim has been using insects to turn food waste into proteins that will be used for animal food and green chemistry sectors. It develops industrial insect farming processes that produce organic fertilisers and components such as proteins, oil, and other insect derivatives. The company’s breeding process uses black soldier fly larvae to extract nutrients in the organic waste and metabolise them into fats, proteins, and other co-products, thereby reducing the amount of water, land, and other resources.
Founder/s: Xavier Marcenac, Marc Bolard, Olga Marcenac
Founded year: 2017
Nasekomo uses organic waste to produce animal feeds. The company claims to increase farmed animal outputs, health, and welfare by bringing back insects to their plates, which are their natural diets with amazing nutritional values and immunity enhancers. The Bulgarian startup impacts human food by letting higher quality proteins at better prices for everyone. And, Nasekomo minimises greenhouse gas emissions, food waste, and depletion of renewable resources such as pure water, marine life stocks, and arable lands.
Founder/s: Alvan Hunt, John Lynam
Founded year: 2016
Irish agritech startup Hexafly farms insects to fertilise plants, feed fishes, and enhance medicines and foods with proteins. Hexafly has developed a method of sustainable insect farming, which converts low-value waste streams – black soldier flies into bioplastics, fertilisers, and value feeds. The insect-derived products supplied by Hexafly are used by a slew of companies in the medical, cosmetic, animal feed, food, and plant nutrition sectors.
Founder/s: Keiran Olivares Whitaker
Founded year: 2015
London-based Entocycle is an insect farming company that operates with the mission to defend and restore the natural world. It was launched to farm insects as a sustainable alternative to soy and fishmeal and put an end to the industrial plundering of the natural world. The company is building a new insect farming facility that will be used to raise black soldier flies. These flies will be fed on food waste to create sustainable insect protein.
Stock photo from artpritsadee/Shutterstock