nsect’s co-founder, president and chief executive Antoine Hubert outside the company's pilot plant.

Ÿnsect raises $124m to finish world’s biggest insect farm

Mealworm farmer Ÿnsect announced today that it has extended its Series C funding by $124 million to $372m – the largest amount ever raised by a non-American ‘agtech’ business.

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The new capital will fund completion of the world’s largest insect farm, due to open in the city of Amiens, France in early 2022.

Ÿnsect’s 130-feet high vertical farm will produce 20,000 tonnes of insect-based protein for fish, farmed animal and pet feed and 80,000 tonnes of fertiliser products annually and create 500 direct and indirect jobs.

The company said it already has sales contracts worth $105m, including orders from aquafeed giant Skretting. It said the orders “recognise the dramatic yield and health benefits of the Molitor mealworm versus other insect species, and in particular the black soldier fly”.

Iron fan: Robert Downey Jr, whose FootPrint Coalition took part in the fundraising round. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Expansion into US

Ÿnsect said the new investment 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 Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr’s FootPrint Coalition, and grow its markets into the supply of wet pet food.

The new funding comes from Series C lead investor Astanor Ventures, Upfront Ventures, FootPrint Coalition, existing investor Hong-Kong-based Happiness Capital, Supernova Invest (the leading early stage investor in the French deep tech market) and Armat Group (based in Luxembourg).

Equity and debt financing (where debt represents $139m) was also sourced from the French state’s “venture arm”, Caisse des Dépôts, and a pool of French banks.

Increased yields

It takes total financing to $425m, which Ÿnsect says is more than the total amount raised by the entire insect protein sector globally.

The company says several scientific studies have demonstrated that using Ÿnsect products in place of traditional animal proteins have led to a 34% increase in yield for rainbow trout, a 40% mortality reduction for shrimp and a 25% mortality reduction for seabass.

Its fertiliser also produced a 25% increase in yield for rapeseed when used instead of a chemical fertiliser.

Pivotal player

“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, Skretting’s novel ingredients manager.

“We have been working with Ÿnsect for the past five years, supporting their progress towards commercialisation through our continuous ingredient development activities while also committing to a long-term partnership.”   

Revolutionising the food chain

Antoine Hubert, Ÿnsect’s co-founder, president and chief executive, said: “Our ambition is to revolutionise the food chain which, literally, starts from the basics: insects and soil. It concerns all of us, whether we are meat lovers or vegans because it is how our plants and animals are fed.

“Ÿnsect isn’t just about insect farming: with climate change and increasing populations worldwide, we need to produce more food with less available land and fewer resources, so that we’re not clearing forests and emptying our oceans. We believe Ÿnsect can play a pivotal role in this global solution.”

The company’s other customers include European wine brand Torres and Compo Group, the European leader in plant nutrition for gardeners.