Protix secures a collaboration with Tyson Foods

07-12-2023 | |
Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

For more sustainable protein production, Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest food companies agrees on a multi-year strategic collaboration with insect ingredients leader, Protix.

The strategic partnership advances efforts towards creating high-quality, more sustainable protein using innovative technology and solutions. Tyson Foods’ global scale, experience and network will complement Protix’s technology and market leadership to meet the current market demand for insect protein by scaling up production.

The partnership agreement consists of 2 main components:

  1. Creation of a balanced joint venture for the construction of a US insect ingredients facility
  2. An equity investment in Protix’s parent entity which will be used, among other things, to expand further globally.

Asked how much Tyson Foods has invested in this collaboration, Kees Aarts, the CEO of Protix stated that the current collaboration will see a €55 million equity investment from Tyson Foods and current shareholders. He further highlighted that the new facility capacity will be 3 to 4 times the current Dutch facility. “The facility is expected to produce up to 70,000 tons of live larvae annually,” he said.

The US insect facility will house an enclosed system to support all aspects of insect protein production including the breeding, incubating, and hatching of insect larvae. The facility will upcycle food manufacturing byproducts, including those of Tyson Foods, into high-quality insect proteins and lipids which will primarily be used in the pet food, aquaculture, and livestock industries.

Expected collaborative benefits

For Protix, this partnership is the next big step in international expansion. “We aim to establish 13 plants by 2035, producing approximately 950,000 metric tons of products and achieving approximately €1 billion in revenues, and thus making a big impact in the world,” said the CEO. “That’s what we do it for, to create a better food system. Our collaboration with Tyson Foods is a major partnership and investment that will act as a flywheel to grow our business internationally,” he added. “ The strategic investment will support the growth of the emerging insect ingredient industry and expand the use of insect ingredient solutions to create more efficient sustainable proteins and lipids for use in the global feed and food systems.”

Insect ingredients hold huge potential as protein sources, as reports show that protein demand is on the rise, with demand likely to increase by 70% by 2050. On the other hand, the insect protein market is estimated to be worth up to US$21 billion by 2042-2052. On the same leaf, a 2021 report from Rabobank noted that “the demand for insect protein, mainly as an animal feed and pet food ingredient, could reach half a million metric tons by 2030, up from today’s market of approximately 10,000 metric tons.”

Photo: Protix

International growth strategy

The company already exports to 4 continents (Europe, North America, South America, and Africa) and plans to expand further in these regions and beyond.

“We have a proven track record of building markets commercially, often together with our customers. This is something we are very proud of ‘our collaborative approach’. We focus on growing with our customers inspiring and enabling them to excite their customers with healthy and sustainable solutions,” said Kees Aarts the CEO of Protix. Looking back, this is true, Protix is a collaboration giant; as the collaboration list keeps growing, Protix has made collaboration with several companies including, Agrifirm, Hendrix Genetics, Buhler, and others in the value chain collaboration, e.g., one where Klaas Puul B.V. is teaming up with Skretting Ecuador and Veramaris, (more info here), and also in the poultry value chain with partners ForFarmers, PHW Group, Dutch entity Esbro, Venik and Wageningen Livestock Research, (more info here).

Could insect-based ingredients fully replace common protein sources?

Photo: Protix

To answer this question, Protix believes there is need for more awareness of insect ingredients as sustainable nutritional solutions. The company also believes the unlocking of remaining EU regulatory barriers such as getting approval for new feeding substrates for farmed insects will further help the development of the sector to extract the full potential of insects as a circular low-footprint source of nutrition. Protix is active in research to indicate, for example, the benefits of all ingredients in insect feed.

“We need to find the answers to questions about the impact that these novel compounds have when they are included in aqua, pet, or livestock feed. Long story short, with more awareness, larger scale production, improvements in legislation, and more research, insect ingredients will have its own rightful place in replacing common protein sources.”

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Matthew Wedzerai Freelance journalist