Ÿnsect hails EFSA opinion as major step forward for the European insect protein industry

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/andrewburgess
© GettyImages/andrewburgess

Related tags Insect novel foods Efsa

French insect protein producer, Ÿnsect, says an EFSA opinion that mealworms are safe for human consumption is decisive for the European and French insect protein industry.

Getting the provisional green light ​from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on yellow mealworm as a novel food should pave the way for future EU approval, said the company.

Ÿnsect has identified the sports and health nutrition markets as holding great potential for YnMeal, one of its defatted ingredients. 

It said it will also be filing a GRAS request in the US in the coming months to serve the world’s largest market for fitness and sports nutrition. “Ÿnsect has already signed a first multi-year commercial contract within these markets, which is a clear signal that the demand is growing.”

The mealworm, also known as Molitor beetle, is the first insect to receive a positive safety evaluation for human consumption in the world, said the French player. “This represents a great victory and a significant step for the growth of the entire insect industry, and especially mealworm producers. This is also a recognition that mealworm ingredients are premium products as they are uniquely “food grade” compared to other insects used only in animal feed.”

"The positive scientific opinion from EFSA is a major achievement that rewards the work that has been done for years by the entire European insect industry gathered under the [industry trade group], IPIFF,"​ said Antoine Hubert, CEO of Ÿnsect.

With its first production unit in Dole, France, Ÿnsect has been operating since 2016. It has created a patented process for cultivating mealworm to produce a variety of protein and fertilizer products. 

Feed focus 

The feed market is still the priority market for Ÿnsect though, the French company told us.

And European insect producers are awaiting the authorization of insect protein for use in the feed of poultry and pigs. That is anticipated to occur this year, it added.

In October last year, Ÿnsect reported substantial financing from various global investors, with the company saying it has extended its Series C funding by US$224m; in 2019, the company attracted investment totaling U$148m, so it generated US$372m, in total, in Series C funding

Astanor Ventures (Series C lead investor), LA-based, Upfront Ventures, Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr’s FootPrint Coalition, existing investor Hong-Kong-based, Happiness Capital, Supernova Invest, the leading early stage investor in the French deep tech market, and the Armat Group, which is based in Luxembourg, were some of the investors involved.

The company said then that the capital will allow it to complete an insect farm, currently under construction in the city of Amiens, in northern France, which is due to open in early 2022, as well as grow its product lines and expand into North America by leveraging the support of its first US-based investors, Upfront Ventures and FootPrint Coalition. It is also looking to grow its presence in the wet pet food sector.

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