Ÿnsect trailblazing insect protein: €20m European Commission backing for first fully-automated insect protein plant
The Amiens, France, site is due to open in 2021 and will produce insect protein on an industrial scale
11 Jun 2019 --- French agri-tech innovator Ÿnsect, which specializes in turning farmed insects into ingredients for fish feed, pet food and plant fertilizers, has won €20 million worth of backing for the industry’s first fully-automated, sustainable, bio-based protein plant. The funding is to benefit a project called FARMYNG based in Amiens, northern France, and is co-funded by the European Commission and the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU). The Amiens site is due to open in 2021.
The project will produce meal worms called Tenebrio Molitor on an industrial scale, which can be used as premium proteins for animal feed and fertilizers. This will be the first time that bio-based proteins are produced on an industrial scale, to meet ever-increasing global demand, notes Ÿnsect.
FARMYNG brings together 20 key players in the bioeconomy spanning each link in the value chain. The project is expected to have a huge impact on Northern France and Europe over the next decade, with the potential to ramp up production to more than 200,000 tons of premium protein with revenues of approximately €1 billion.
In addition, the plant will benefit the environment by avoiding the need to reduce wild fish stacks by 800,000 tons and will create around 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.
Ÿnsect was co-founded in 2011 by CEO and agronomist Antoine Hubert, Jean-Gabriel Levon, Alexis Angot and Fabrice Berro, with the aim of becoming a global leader in the market for alternative protein sources, while developing an industrial-scale solution attuned to natural ecosystems.
“The FARMYNG project devised and piloted by Ÿnsect will lay the foundations for a new protein supply chain to meet the world’s immense food challenge,” says Hubert. “Europe is demonstrating its global leadership in alternative protein sources and is home to trailblazers throughout the value chain.”
Previously speaking with FoodIngredientsFirst in February, when agri-tech innovator raised US$125 million in a Series C round of funding to build the “world’s biggest insect farm,” Hubert explained what is behind the growing demand for insect protein and how the firm’s entire production process is automated.
“We’re still in the earliest stages of this sector, however, by building the largest insect farm in the world – in Ynfarm in Amiens, Northern France – this investment round will give us the resources to deliver significant volumes. At full capacity, it will enable us to meet the rising demand for protein by producing around 20,000 tons of insect protein annually,” he said. “The key advantage with insect protein is you can produce more with far less: it takes less feed to produce the same quantities of protein, they are produced with fewer antibiotics and chemical fertilizers. And because the ultimate product is 72 percent protein, it is proven to be highly effective as fish feed or for pet nutrition.”
Taking a closer look at the insects
The entire production system is modeled on a circular economy with zero-waste.
Molitor larvae are comprised more than 70 percent protein and is a natural source of nutrients for a wide array of animals, including fish, poultry, pigs, dogs and cats. The insect species is also the best suited to being farmed on an industrial scale, with huge potential as an alternative premium protein source, due to what Ÿnsect describes as “the unparalleled nutritional and health benefits it offers to both plants and animals.”
These qualities make the Molitor perfectly placed to promote a circular economy. The mealworm consumes all sorts of organic matter, even low-grade materials. The insects grow quickly and require less space, less earth and less water than other animal protein sources. Additionally, they give off less ammonia and fewer greenhouses gases than other premium animal proteins.
The technology used in the project was developed by Ÿnsect, which has 25 patents on its innovations. The technology is already being used at the first Ÿnsect site in Dôle, in the Jura region of eastern France, which has a capacity to produce up to 30 tons a month. FARMYNG will optimize the entire process at the new Poulainville plant on the outskirts of Amiens and boost monthly output to more than 1,500 tons of protein.
When the Amiens site opens in 2021, it will represent one of the first Industry 4.0 factories on the continent. It is both fully automated and uses vertical farming techniques to save both energy and space. The site also features many data sensors enabling Ÿnsect teams to develop predictive models to track insect productivity and growth.
FARMYNG includes three raw materials and nutritional solutions suppliers (ADM Chamtor, Ajinomoto Animal Nutrition Europe and Mg2Mix), a larvae supplier (Star Food), two research facilities (Cra-W and Cea-Genoscope), four tech suppliers (Ÿnsect, Clextral, TGC Extrusion and ULMA), a quality-control specialist (Eurofins), a sustainability consultant (Quantis), an innovation consultant (PNO), four end-users (Skretting, Virbac, Compo, Torres) and three bio-economy clusters (IAR, CLIB and WPCC).
“For BBI JU, funding the first industrial biorefinery able to turn insects into premium, high-value proteins for animal feed and fertilizers was a strategic priority. One of our key goals is to de-risk investments like this that have a significant socioeconomic impact. The flagship FARMYNG project will also further BBI JU's strategic aim of reducing the EU's reliance on massive protein imports,” adds Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of BBI JU.
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