The two firms said they are aiming to contribute to the establishment of a sustainable aquaculture industry and food supply chain in Japan, where the rate of consumption of fish and shellfish is one of the highest globally.
“Japan is the second largest user of fishmeal in the world, and there is a growing need for solutions to develop alternatives to imported fishmeal, the price of which is expected to continue to rise in the future. There are concerns about a supply-demand crunch of fishmeal such as anchovy, which is an indispensable feed ingredient for the aquaculture industry,” said the Tokyo headquartered Marubeni Corporation, which is active in diversified businesses and trading, including the production of aquaculture feed.
The partners have signed a memorandum of understanding. “It confirms our willingness to work together,” said a spokesperson for Ÿnsect.
In terms of the roles of both partners in the tie-up, the mealworm producer outlined how it has knowledge of vertical farm construction and insect breeding, whereas Marubeni has insight into how the Japanese market works.
When asked what kind of market access this deal gives Ÿnsect, and whether an insect production site in Japan might be in the works, the spokesperson told us: “It is too early to say, but it is a first step into the Asian market.”
Vertical farming model
Founded in 2011, Ÿnsect raises Buffalo and Molitor mealworms in automated vertical farms, with products targeted at animal production, consumers, and plants.
The company currently has two production sites, one in Dole, France, which was commissioned in 2016, and one in the Netherlands, as well as a hatchery in Omaha, Nebraska. It employs 360 people, and it has raised around $450m to date from investment funds, banks, and public entities.
Late last year saw it ink two major agreements for new facility builds: one in the US with Ardent Mills and another in Mexico with Corporation Kosmos, a food service business. Meanwhile, its flagship facility in Amiens, in France, has entered the commissioning phase. That new site will begin operations, in a phased manner, over the next few months. It will eventually produce up to 200,000 tons of ingredients per year.