Insect farmer Protix has raised €55 million, with the largest meat supplier in the United States, Tyson Foods, among the investors. This grants the new investor a minority stake in the Dutch farm. The companies plan to build an insect factory in the U.S. through a joint venture, which is set to be four times larger than the current location in the Netherlands.

Since 2009, Protix has been cultivating larvae of soldier flies on a diet of food waste. In Bergen op Zoom, these larvae are processed into nutritional ingredients for fish and livestock. The company produces 14,000 tons of live larvae annually, enough to feed five million salmon.

With global protein demand on the rise, available land, water, and emission space are limited. Insects represent a relatively sustainable source of protein. The larvae can consume food waste and convert it into proteins. Furthermore, insect production requires significantly less water and land compared to other protein sources. “The ecological footprint is up to 85% smaller than that of soy,” says Protix CEO Kees Aarts.

 

In 2021, the European Commission legalized the use of insect proteins in poultry and pig feed, heralding good news for European players who have been receiving investments for years. Protix’s largest competitor, France’s Ynsect, raised nearly $400 million in 2020 for the construction of a factory.

Listed company Tyson Foods, which sells a fifth of all pork, beef, and chicken in the U.S. market, is venturing into a new protein segment with this investment. It will be a matter of years before the factory in the U.S. is built, but it is set to become the largest in the world, according to Aarts. “We are still looking for the best location, primarily needing an area with ample food waste nearby.”

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