Ÿnsect raises $125m to become world leader in alternative protein

Ÿnsect, the ag-tech innovator that specialises in breeding insects and transforming them into premium ingredients for fish feed, pet food and organic plant fertilizers, has raised a $125m (€110m) Series C round.

It aims to use the money to scale up production by building the world’s biggest insect farm in Amiens Metropole, Northern France and develop the company internationally, particularly in the North American market.

Led by Astanor Ventures – and backed by established international funds including Bpifrance, Talis Capital, Idinvest Partners, Finasucre and Compagnie du Bois Sauvage – this investment is the largest-ever ag-tech funding deal outside of the US.

With a mission to tap into the natural goodness of insects at mass-market scale to help create a sustainable food system and meet the rising demands of global protein consumption – which is predicted to surge by 52% between 2007 and 2030 – Ÿnsect was co-founded in 2011 by CEO Antoine Hubert, Jean-Gabriel Levon, Alexis Angot and Fabrice Berro, with the aim of becoming the global leader in the market for alternative protein sources.

At capacity, Ÿnsect’s largest farm to date will produce around 20,000 tons of protein annually. Alongside this new facility at Amiens, the investment will also enable Ÿnsect to step up their international expansion programme by opening a new factory in North America.

Most of Ÿnsect’s existing investors (Bpifrance Ecotechnologies, managed on behalf of the French Strategic Investment Plan, Demeter, Quadia, and Vis Vires New Protein Ventures) are participating in this latest round, which is being led by Astanor Ventures (Belgium), alongside Bpifrance Large Venture, Talis Capital (UK), Idinvest Partners, Crédit Agricole Brie Picardie, Caisse d’Epargne Hauts-de-France and Picardie Investissement (France), Finasucre and Compagnie du Bois Sauvage (Belgium), Happiness Capital (Hong Kong) and a Singaporean family office.

Aquaculture plays a critical role in human nutrition, growing faster than any other protein source for human consumption.  Around half of the fish we eat today comes from farmed sources. Yet fishmeal, the primary food source for farmed fish, is in crisis because it’s derived from fast-depleting ocean fish stocks.

As part of their natural diet, wild fish and crustaceans eat insects which deliver an important source of high-quality protein and polyunsaturated fats. While competitors chose to farm other commodity-driven insects and microorganism species, Ÿnsect doubled-down on the Molitor – small common beetles known as mealworms.

“Ÿnsect is becoming the world’s largest insect producer, whatever the species, thanks to our unique highly scalable and pioneering technology,” said Antoine Hubert, Ÿnsect CEO & Chairman.

“Enabled by deep tech, the entire production process – from feeding to controlling the health and welfare of our insects, and from the sensors used for quality control to harvesting mature insects – is automated. We have 25 patents covering our technology, the products themselves and their different applications, giving Ÿnsect the world’s largest insect patent portfolio. But ultimately, we need scale to have a significant impact globally, which this investment will allow us to achieve.”

Against a backdrop of a rapidly expanding animal feed market worth $500bn globally (and expected to reach $600bn in 2027) and a $200bn fertilizer market, Ÿnsect now has international commercial traction with customers across Europe and, increasingly, in Asia too, allowing the company to book $70m in orders spanning the next four years.

“By offering an insect protein alternative to traditional animal and fish-based feed sources, Ÿnsect can help offset the growing competition for ocean fish stock required to feed two billion more people by 2050, while alleviating fish, water and soil depletion, as well as agriculture’s staggering 25% share of global greenhouse gas emissions,” said Antoine Hubert. “Our goal is simply to give insects back their natural place in the food chain.”