CP Foods to partner with Thai university on insect protein development

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/holydude
© GettyImages/holydude

Related tags BSF Insect Protein

Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) has expressed ‘keen interest’ in insect protein, indicating many years of research in that field, and announcing it has signed an agreement with Thailand’s Chiang Mai University to develop Black Soldier Fly (BSF) derived protein for use in feed and food products.

Niwes Nantachit, president of Chiang Mai University, and Dr Pairat Srichana, senior vice-president of CP Foods, signed a contract aimed at commercializing insect-based protein.

The Thai conglomerate said the partnership is aimed at driving the domestic agriculture industry towards sustainable growth. The parties said the project is also about maximizing circular economy opportunities, given that BSF larvae can efficiently recycling biowaste.

CP Foods will fund the project and will jointly develop a ‘smart’ BSF farm in Thailand, a pilot production model that will function as an educational initiative as well, targeting students, farmers, and the wider community.

Dr Yuthana Phimolsiripol, director of the Food Innovation and Packaging Center (FIN) at Chiang Mai University, said that institution had carried out earlier research into the potential uses of BSF derived products, such as the use of larvae oil in skincare applications.

CP Foods flagged that is has long been conducting research in the area of alternative protein sources, ranging from plant-based, cell-based, and insect-based protein candidates in response to growing sustainable food trends in Asia and to ensure long-term food security as well.

Black Soldier Fly is a sustainable choice for alternative protein and fat sources. We hope that our partnership with Chiang Mai University will pave the way for a sustainable and profitable insect industry in Thailand,”​ said Dr Pairat.

Thai venture fund backing food tech breakthroughs 

CP Foods is not the only Thailand headquartered food group backing insect protein production.

Seafood giant, Thai Union, has been investing in insect protein in the past few years.

October 2019 saw Israeli insect farming startup, Flying Spark, announce a strategic partnership and investment deal with that seafood producer. The funding from Thai Union was to allow the start-up to advance its insect growing and processing capabilities in Thailand.

That investment was the first outlay from Thai Union’s venture fund, an initiative launched in 2019 with an initial commitment of US$30m with the goal of backing innovative companies developing breakthrough technologies in food-tech.

And September 2020 saw the seafood company also invest in Manna Foods Co, an insect tech and e-commerce startup in the US. That innovator was part of the first cohort of startups involved in SPACE-F, the first food tech incubator and accelerator program in Thailand, which Thai Union is a founding partner of, alongside Mahidol University and Thailand's National Innovation Agency (NIA).

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