Leveraging a US$33m Series B funding round raised in 2022 and backed by Mekong Capital, Dragon Capital, and The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Vung Tau facility marks Entobel’s second industrial-scale production facility in Vietnam.
The insect ingredient producer established its first commercial site in 2019 in Vietnam after six years of pilot and demonstration scale R&D activities.
The new plant will have an annual production capacity of 10,000 MT of BSF derived protein. The facility features 50 levels of vertical rearing, incorporating automation via robotics, cutting-edge sensors and data analytics that enhance productivity.
Gaëtan Crielaard and Alexandre de Caters co-founded Entobel. Both are from Belgium, and they made the strategic decision 10 years ago to set up principal operations in Vietnam; that country’s tropical climate is ideal to rear BSF larvae, with lower energy costs compared to competitors in Europe, said the founders.
Access to high-quality feedstock was another reason for the choice of Vietnam as a production location, with the startup having established a collaboration with Heineken’s operations there for substrate supply, upcycling byproducts of the brewing giant’s process.
Entobel has a clear line-of-sight for regional expansion and is preparing to build new facilities in markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia; it is targeting the launch of its Series C funding round in H1 2024 to support its growth plans.
Optimizing raw materials
Last year, feed additive producer, Adisseo, announced it was collaborating with Entobel to optimize insect rearing. The two companies are looking to gain further insights into the nutritional requirements of BSF larvae.
They are combining their respective areas of expertise to improve insect rearing, optimizing the raw materials use for rearing BSF larvae through the application of feed additives. Adisseo is leveraging its knowledge of animal nutrition, amino acids requirements, animal digestibility, and NIR ingredient analysis in this respect.
Insect production hub
Asia has become a major hub for insect protein producers, with several getting the green light in recent months to export into the EU market.
In October, Veolia Bioconversion Malaysia announced it had received approval from the agriculture ministry in Malaysia to supply EU livestock, aquaculture and pet food markets with its insect meal and insect oil products.
In March of this year, another Malaysia headquartered biotech, Nutrition Technologies, received the rubber stamp to ship its insect derived ingredients to EU and UK based feed and pet food manufacturers. That startup also recently signed an MoU partnership with Sumitomo Corporation to distribute its meal and oil into Japan. Like Entobel, it too has plans to build several insect protein production facilities across Southeast Asia over the next few years.
Meanwhile, Singapore headquartered insect ingredient developer, Protenga, has been attracting investment. In January this year, we reported that The Yield Lab Asia Pacific was its latest backer. Also participating in that financing round were SEEDS Capital and JBI Innovations.