Ÿnsect facility gets €20m EU funding, Protix opens doors to new production site

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Mealworms at Ÿnsect demonstration site © Ÿnsect
Mealworms at Ÿnsect demonstration site © Ÿnsect
The European insect feed production sector is shifting up a gear, and reaching industrial scale.

Such market transition is evident in two developments.

Firstly, the announcement by French company, Ÿnsect, that it has won €20m backing from the EU Commission towards the launch of its fully automated industrial facility to produce mealworm-derived protein.  

Antoine Hubert Laboratoire 2
Antoine Hubert, CEO and founder Ÿnsect, at work in the lab © Ÿnsect

Secondly, Dutch insect feed producer, Protix, opened what is the world's largest insect farm, based on the black soldier fly, at Bergen op Zoom, in the Netherlands yesterday [June 11].

Farmyng project

Ÿnsect has already attracted investment of more than $175m and now employs 110 people in France, where it has been operating a pilot facility used to develop its mealworm based technology since 2016.  

The €20m funds from the EU Commission and the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) will support the Farmying project, through which Ÿnsect will operate its Ynfarm plant; that facility is anticipated to be on stream ​in early 2021.

The Farmyng project is targeted at rearing mealworm (Tenebrio Molitor)​ on an industrial scale to produce premium proteins for animal feed and fertilizers.

Ÿnsect said the initiative would have a huge impact on Northern France and Europe over the next 10 years, with the potential to ramp up production to over 200,000 tons of premium protein with expected revenues of around €1bn and the creation of 1,200 direct and indirect jobs. 

“The objective is to now create a full value chain around the Ynfarm factory in Amiens. BBI JU will ensure we follow the budget and planning as indicated in our proposal,”​ Antoine Hubert, CEO and founder of Ÿnsect, told FeedNavigator.

Farmyng brings together 20 key players including raw material and nutritional product suppliers, a larvae supplier, two research facilities, technology providers, a quality-control specialist, a sustainability consultant, an innovation consultant, four end-users and three bio-economy clusters.

“Among the 20 partners, you have feedstock suppliers like Ajinomoto and ADM Chamtor, and also customers, among them world fish feed leader Skretting, premium pet food leader, Virbac, and European wine leader, Torres.

“Suppliers will deliver feedstock to Ynsect at our Ynfarm plant in Amiens while Skretting, Virbac, Fortes and Compo will provide large volumes of feed, pet food and fertilizers to the market that will include our YnMeal and Ynfrass products,”​ added Hubert.

Protix commercial facility goes lives

Dutch King, Willem-Alexander, officiated at the opening ceremony of the Protix production site on Tuesday this week. The Dutch agriculture minister, Carola Schouten, was also present.

Kees Aarts, founder and CEO of the Dutch insect feed manufacturer, said the opening of the new facility signifies a real transformation, not only for the company, but also for the entire sector and the markets it serves.

The factory’s cultivation process takes place in a controlled environment and is highly automated with sensor and data systems, robots and climate control, said the company. 

Kees Art and Bowery
Dr Jenna Bowyer, Skretting project procurement manager, and Kees Aarts, CEO of Protix, at the opening of the Dutch insect company's new production facility

In parallel with the new facility coming on stream, Skretting, announced that it has committed to volume from Protix that it said could see up to 5.5m servings of salmon brought to market per year containing insect meal.

In a release, Dr Jenna Bowyer, Skretting project procurement manager, said, “We have seen players like Protix make quality improvements with every step and believe these products can make a real impact to future protein supply.”

Skretting said it has shown considerable commitment to the development of novel ingredients in recent years, including significant investment in R&D.

“The aquaculture industry is very large and growing, and it is essential for us to see novel ingredients brought to commercial scale,”​ added Bowyer.

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