“This is the first large-scale insect protein factory in Southeast Asia, growing over 3 trillion bugs at any one time, to produce sustainable proteins for the animal feed sector. We run an environmentally sustainable zero-waste facility where all our bugs are fed on factory food waste that is diverted from landfills,” said Tom Berry, co-CEO, Nutrition Technologies.
The company, which is headquartered in Singapore but operates out of Malaysia, was founded in 2014 by Berry and Nick Piggott, the other co-CEO of the business.
The new factory, located in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, Malaysia, was commissioned in December 2020 and is now scaling-up its production. It is the result of five years of R&D and technology development. The team said its vertical insect production system is optimized for the tropical conditions in Southeast Asia and uses bespoke automated equipment and industry 4.0 principles to ensure strict biosafety and high-quality standards.
“When fully operational, our new plant will produce 16,000 tons of insect products per year, [12,000 tons of insect frass, 3,000 tons of insect meal and 1,000 tons of insect oils]. This will divert 80,000 tons of waste per year from landfills,” said Piggott.
The process relies on a combination of special selected bacteria and black soldier fly (BSF) larvae to recycle nutrients from agricultural and food processing by-products.
CTO, Martin Zorrilla, said the BSF larvae’s fatty acid profile and bioactive compounds such as antimicrobial peptides have a key role to play in addressing antibiotic reduction challenges in feed.
"We have customers lined up for nearly all our production capacity already, split across several sectors. The majority of volume is for aquafeed, however, we also are selling to some customers for application in poultry feed and pet food as well," Berry told this publication.
Raising funds for entry into new markets
Nutrition Technologies also closed a funding round of US$5m last Friday [February 26], which was led by Hera Capital, and supported by existing investors, Openspace Ventures and SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore.
“Nutrition Technologies has a great team led by highly committed and capable founders. Despite the COVID-19 challenges they were still able to build their new factory and continue to innovate,” commented, Hian Goh, founding partner, Openspace Ventures.
The capital raised will be used to fund new R&D projects as well as used to prepare the company for entry into new markets in Southeast Asia, with the entrepreneurs saying that they plan to build several similar size facilities across Southeast Asia in the next five years.
The company is looking to expand production in Malaysia whilst also establishing new industrial scale plants in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. It will also set up an R&D center in Singapore to lead on innovation and connect with industry partners and investors.
The vision is production, eventually, of 500,000 tons a year of the company’s sustainable insect meal, branded as Hi.Protein.
Having raised a total of US$14m to date, the innovators plan to generate more funds this year. The company is set to raise Series B funds in Q3, with this round anticipated to increase production capacity 10-fold in order to meet the current pipeline demand.
“We aim to be a global leader in the insect space. Over the next 10 years we plan to build a large network of insect farms across the region, supplying a new high-quality insect meal to support the growth of aquaculture and livestock production in Asia,” said Berry.