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Huge funding for insect producer Protix

Protix, producer of insect meal and oil and based in the Netherlands, received a funding of €45 million. The company will use the money to step up its production capacity and for more research in the applications of insect derived ingredients for feed and food.

The funding is made possible by Aqua-Spark, the first investment company focused on sustainable aquaculture, Rabobank, BOM and various private investors.

Exciting times for aquaculture

Protix breeds insects for animal feed through an automated breeding and rearing process. The company’s products are used in pig, poultry and pet diets. The driver behind Aqua-Spark’s interest is Protix promising uses for aquaculture. The use of insect meal (protein) is supported by EU member states and it is expected that the use of insect meal in aquafeed will officially be allowed as of 1 July 2017. Insect oil is already allowed to use in livestock diets in the EU. For example, commercial feed for growing pigs, supplemented with insect oil from Protix, is already on the market.

Photo: Protix
Photo: Protix

Expand production capacity

“Due to increasing demand from our loyal and valuable customers, we are ready for the upcoming acceleration made possible by investments and our partners. With the funding, we plan to expand Protix’s production capacity, especially within the aquaculture industry where the main challenge is creating a sustainable, healthy feed. Protix will also deepen its biological and technical R&D and diversify to other markets like human food. We are very excited to serve our existing and new customers and we will be seeking great M&A opportunities, work with great organisations and hire the best people,” said Protix CEO Kees Aarts.

Reasons for investment

Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, founders of Aqua-Spark have a clear reason for investing. “We’ve been researching the insect industry for many years, and Protix stands out because of its potential to be pivotal in the development of a sustainable aquafeed solution. We’re selective about the companies we invest in; and Protix fits well with Aqua-Spark’s portfolio and aligns with our mission and values. Combined with excellent potential returns and through its partnership with Bühler, Protix is expected to enable industry acceleration globally.”

Rabobank has been involved with Protix from its start, and continues to support the insect company today as the core bank in its latest round of funding. The bank was introduced to Protix through the Dutch Green Tech Fund (currently Shift Invest).

Huge growth insect meal market

The interest and potential for insect derived animal feed ingredients is booming. Research firm ‘Research and markets’ recently published a report, in which it states that the market opportunity for insect feed across the globe is considerable and offers a stable and steady opportunity for feed suppliers, distributors and farms. The report claims that this market will reach $1.07 billion in revenues in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 102.5% from the current year. The potential to use in fish diet is very high. Insect meal can be used as a protein alternative for fish meal in aquafeed and hence can form a sustainable protein source and reduce the pressure on wild fish populations, which are used to produce fish meal. Also many trials have been done in pigs and poultry to see the effects of substitution soybean meal with insect meal. Some of the trials are listed here.

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