$372 million Series C funding for the completion of the world's largest insect farm
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Insect farming startup Ÿnsect extended its Series C funding to $372 million, the largest amount ever raised by a non-American agri-tech business. The new capital will fund the completion of the largest insect farm in the world, due to open in the city of Amiens, France in early 2022. Ÿnsect will produce 100,000 tons of insect products annually, as well as create 500 direct and indirect jobs. It will also let the company expand beyond Europe and Asia into the United States, with the support of its first US-based investors, Upfront Ventures and FootPrint Coalition and grow its markets into the supply of wet pet food.
Ÿnsect has created a patented process for cultivating mealworms to produce a variety of highly digestible protein and fertilizer products. These products sustainably replace animal proteins consumed in the supply chain by fish and livestock farms, animal proteins used in pet food and fertilizers used in plant nutrition, while leading to greater yields and health benefits for the animals and plants being fed. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that using Ÿnsect products in place of traditional animal proteins and chemical fertilizers have led to a 34% increase in yield for rainbow trout, a 40% mortality reduction on shrimp and 25% mortality reduction for seabass, among others.
“The new funding and over $105 million in sales contracts recognize the dramatic yield and health benefits of the Molitor mealworm versus other insect species, and, in particular, the black soldier fly,” the company said. By cultivating mealworms in a vertical farm, Ÿnsect uses 98% less land while significantly reducing the carbon and biodiversity footprints of protein production. Ÿnsect’s process is designed for a circular economy as it generates zero waste, meaning everything which is produced is sold. In fact, the analyses carried out by the Quantis firm show that the Ÿnfarm project is carbon negative, has a sequestered value chain and avoids more CO2 emissions.
The Ÿnsect process is underpinned by deeply innovative technology protected by around 30 patents, representing 40% of the total patent portfolio of the top 10 insect protein companies in the world. To date, Ÿnsect has $105 million worth of contracts signed to supply customers including Torres, one of the most admired European wine brands in the world (Drinks International), Skretting and Compo Group, the European leader in plant nutrition for gardeners.
“Skretting is proud to be a part of Ÿnsect’s success and we are confident they will continue to be a pivotal player in the global food chain for years to come,” said Jenna Bowyer, category manager Novel Ingredients for Skretting. “We have been working with Ÿnsect for the past five years, supporting their progress towards commercialization through our continuous ingredient development activities while also committing to a long-term partnership.”
Equity and debt financing (where debt represents $139m) was also sourced from Caisse des Dépôts, the “venture arm” of the French state, and a pool of French banks lead by Crédit Agricole Brie-Picardie and Caisse d’Epargne Hauts de France. Arkea, Crédit Mutuel, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole Franche Comté and Caisse d’Epargne Normandie also participated.
Ÿnsect has proven resilient throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with minimal disruption to construction and production. As a business currently focused on the production of animal feed and plant nutrition, protective equipment and the most stringent hygiene standards are the norm. “We’ve shown that we can weather significant shocks like coronavirus, which in the coming decades is going to be a significant differentiator between businesses,” said Antoine Hubert, Ÿnsect’s co-founder, president and CEO.
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