Focus on pet and human food for Ÿnsect as it sheds jobs, shuts Dutch facility

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/BrianAJackson
© GettyImages/BrianAJackson

Related tags Ÿnsect mealworm Protein pet food

French insect-based ingredients producer, Ÿnsect, is to increase its focus on high-margin markets like pet food and human consumption. It is also closing a production plant in the Netherlands and letting around 20% of its staff go.

The revelations, first reported in Bloomberg and Reuters, follow a new fundraising round that generated €160m ($177m).

Antoine Hubert, founder and CEO of Ÿnsect, said ​the identity of the funders will be disclosed once the Series D financing round has been completed. 

He told FeedNavigator that the company is "refocusing on a path of profitability" and thus concentrating on projects that are profitable in the short term.

So animal feed market development is on hold, for now: "In this context, the group is focusing on high value-added products in the pet food, bird food, plant food and human food markets. But animal feed remains one of Ynsect's major challenges. Aquafeed is not left out, and we will continue to pursue our current projects and expand when the global economic environment becomes more favorable."

Job cuts

Ÿnsect will also close its Dutch production plant, acquired through the takeover of Protifarm in 2021, but will maintain its research activities there. The move will lead to 35 job cuts.

The French company raises Buffalo and Molitor mealworms in automated vertical farms. Beyond the site in the Netherlands, it has two facilities in France, one in Dole, which was commissioned in 2016 and its new flagship facility in Amiens, which is in the commissioning phase. That site will begin operations, in a phased manner, over the next few months. 

Some 38 employees are also set to be let go at its French operations. In terms of why that decision was taken, the CEO said: "It was determined by considering the needs and strategy of the company. The choice was not easy; management projected the number of staff [needed], taking into account priorities and future projects. However, recruitment will be maintained in our development areas, particularly in Amiens."

The Americas: New facility builds 

In December 2022, the French company inked two major deals​ for new facility builds: one in the US with Ardent Mills and another in Mexico with Corporation Kosmos, a food service business. 

Ÿnsect has filed with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for market approval for its flagship protein concentrate for the pet food market, and Mexico is the leading country in the world in terms of human consumption of insects and insect-based proteins, said the producer.  

"We aim to expand the company abroad and build a dozen of vertical farms around the world, up until 2030. We signed two partnership agreements last year with industrial partners in Mexico and the US to further explore the possibility of building vertical farms locally. In essence, Ÿnsect is looking to expand geographically and regionalize its business footprint to meet specific local challenges and global sustainable objectives: shorter supply chains, local raw materials and customers, as a way to enhance local food sovereignty," commented Hubert.

In March, Ÿnsect signed an agreement with Japanese company, Marubeni, to collaborate on ways to integrate its insect protein into feed for farmed fish in Japan. The two firms said they were 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. 

Asked about the status of that alliance, the CEO said: "We have signed a letter of intent for future collaborations together."

This article was amended from the original published on April 18 to reflect the comments from Ÿnsect CEO, Antoine Hubert. 

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