Will bugs save the world?
Saving might be a strong word, but Paris-based company Ynsect, producer of insect protein and natural insect fertilizer, believes in the dual mission of feeding the world and protecting our dwindling climate resources. This vision takes a step forward with the backing of a European food safety agency and data that supports a shift in consumer attitudes towards a diet containing bugs and insects.
According to Ynsect CEO Antoine Hubert, the European Food Standards Agency’s approval of Ynsect’s small mealworm for human consumption will allow his company to move forward quickly in its efforts to create its product line. based on insects as well as working with third-party foods. manufacturers.
“Our company was born out of a passion to help fight climate change through real solutions. Insect protein, which can easily be incorporated in powder form into a whole range of products, is healthier than insect protein. plant-based protein and more environmentally friendly than traditional animal protein,” Hubert told The Spoon in a recent interview. “We are delighted to see EFSA’s approval responding to consumer demands; conscious consumers are increasingly informed about the best choices for them and for the environment.
Coinciding with EFSA’s green light results from an independent research company, Ynsect’s timing has been tightened. OnePoll, a UK market research company, surveyed consumers to gauge participants’ willingness to consume insects as an alternative source of protein. At first, only 59% were open to the idea, but after learning about the benefits of eating insects, over 70% responded positively. More than half of vegans and vegetarians responded favorably once the benefits were explained.
Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm and Buffalo beetle, an insect that Hubert says is high in protein and fat. The mealworm as an insect is part of Southeast Asian diets and can reproduce prolifically. Ynsect uses vertical farming techniques to “grow” these insects and deploys chemical-free products to turn them into a range of products, including fertilizers and pet food. Recently, Ynsect expanded its presence by acquiring Protifarm, a Dutch mealworm producer, and then incorporating Jord Producers, a young Nebraska-based mealworm farm, into its portfolio.
Ynsect’s consumer product is called AdalbaPro, a line of minimally processed ingredients offering meat replacement and protein enrichment solutions. In collaboration with European partners, AdalbaPro products are already present in several bakery products, sports nutrition, pasta and meat substitutes. AdalbaPro contains all essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals as high quality animal protein.
As Hubert recounts the journey of his business, not only has it shown organic growth from a fertilizer/aquaculture business to pet food to a product for humans, but the Ynsect’s approach also overcame the problem that other alternative protein companies face in building infrastructure. The company has carefully pursued its mealworm growth treatment plan, which keeps it nimble for an opportunity in Europe and, hopefully, after government approval, in the United States.
To date, Ynsect has raised over $400 million from companies such as OurCrowd, SuperNova Invest and Caisse d’Epargne. The company also captured the imagination of the real Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. The actor/investor recently featured Ynsect’s product on Steve Colbert’s late night show.