Can the U.S. become a major manufacturer of... mealworms?
Lots of companies around the world are on a quest to bring insect protein to the masses as a pet food, a fish food, and even a people food to meet global demand for new sources of protein.
In a bid to make its mark on the U.S. industry, our Paris-based portfolio company Ÿnsect, is taking its first steps to make a multinational meal of the insect protein market.
The company acquired Jord Producers, a Nebraska-based insect cultivation and harvesting business to make its mark on the U.S. after first introducing products here back in November of last year.
Ÿnsect's move across the Atlantic is a sign of the growing market for mealworms and of the confidence that the company, which has raised roughly half-a-billion dollars, in the U.S. as a new home for mealworm connoisseurs.
The French company already has the world's largest mealworm farm based out of Europe and the expansion to the U.S. will allow insect to start selling to all the backyard farmers out there who're raising their own chickens.
That backyard chicken market is, itself, a pretty big one, with expectations that it could reach $400 million by 2026, according to studies from Arthur D. Little cited by Ÿnsect.
The company has already proven itself as a player in the market for aquaculture inputs , where the value of the bugs is undeniable.
"We're very excited to continue establishing our presence in the US, which is a priority market for Ÿnsect as we expand globally. As an impact company, sustainability and support for the environment is at the top of our agenda," said Antoine Hubert, CEO and Co-Founder of Ÿnsect in a statement.
Mealworms like those produced at Jord offer significant benefits to livestock and pets alike as they contain all the amino acids a chicken needs for optimal development: very high protein content (72% protein), highly digestible, hypoallergenic and the potential to decrease skin diseases, the company said in a statement.
Ÿnsect's production portfolio now includes three vertical farms and one hatchery, which will eventually allow Ÿnsect to increase volumes of mealworm larvae production and, will also help pave the way into further entries into the petfood market, with ingredients like protein meal and oil expected to be approved for production in the near future in North America.
The bugs are also just better for the environment. Cultivating insects, as startups like Ÿnsect; the Mark Cuban-backed Chapul Farms; Atlanta-based Grubbly Farms (backed by Overline Capital); and Beta Hatch (backed by Lewis & Clark Agrifood); uses 98% less land and 45% fewer resources than other food production methods. It's good for you and good for the planet.