Insect protein: Innovafeed expands production site in France
Specialized in ingredients based on the Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens), Innovafeed now claims to have the largest insect production capacity globally, with its two sites in Nesle and Gouzeaucourt having output of over 100,000 tons of ingredients per year.
Its expanded site at Nesle includes 10,000 sensors, in total, which are specific to insect rearing; the sensors measure, control, and optimize parameters such as temperature and humidity.
The new factory also deploys a system that can collect more than 20,000 eggs per second, and it leverages AI to optimize production.
The company said its sites in Nesle and Gouzeaucourt have resulted in the creation of 220 direct and 650 indirect jobs.
“Innovafeed embodies technological and industrial innovation,” said Bruno Le Maire, France’s minister for the economy, finance, industrial and digital sovereignty, who with Christophe Bechu, the country’s minister for ecological transition and territories, attended an inauguration ceremony at the Nesle site last Friday.
The presence of the ministers is an acknowledgement of the company’s success to date, said Clément Ray, co-founder and CEO of the insect ingredient firm.
Innovafeed’s plant in Nesle, which started operations back in November 2020, is co-located with starch producer, Tereos, from which it gets a steady stream of byproducts, and with Kogeban, a biomass plant, from which the insect protein company harnesses waste energy. Moreover, it says its vertical production model allows it to reduce its land footprint while ensuring a steady ramp-up in production capacity.
A certified B Corp company, Innovafeed raised €290m (US$320m) in a Series D round in September last year, bringing its total cumulative funding to €490m.
In terms of priorities, a spokesperson for Innovafeed told FeedNavigator that the company remains focused on its key markets: aquaculture, poultry and swine, pets and plants.
"We want our technology to become a solution in the fight against climate change. We particularly need to accelerate the development of the alternative proteins industry, especially in aquaculture for which a protein deficit of 40 million tons is expected by 2030. We believe that aquaculture, with its deep market and sustainability [challenges], allows Innovafeed to maximize its impact. It is with this goal [in mind] that we have developed a long-term research and commercial partnership with Cargill, a leader in salmon and shrimp feed.
“The pet market is also interesting, as it allows us to offer [companion animals] a quality protein that is traceable, and sustainable with additional benefits such as hypoallergenicity. Our presence in this market is accelerating, notably through a commercial and research partnership with ADM in the US.”
In early 2023, Innovafeed laid the foundation stone for its new US production facility, a project being run in conjuction with ADM, at that agribusiness giant's site in Decatur, Illinois. The build should result in a highly automated indoor farm utilizing a circular, zero-waste model.
The project is kicking off with the construction of the North American Insect Innovation Center; that unit is scheduled to open before the end of this year. It is designed to help Innovafeed adapt and deepen its knowledge in relation to multiple aspects of insect rearing such as novel feedstocks.