Alexandre de Caters and Gaëtan Crielaard, co-founders and co-CEOs of Vietnam-based Entobel, stated in a press release: “Today marks a major milestone in our journey to transform the insect protein landscape and supply sustainable feed ingredients to the rapidly growing aquaculture and pet food industries.”
Entobel’s facility was constructed in just 12 months and is currently the world’s most CAPEX-efficient black soldier fly (BSF) production facility. The facility features 50 levels of vertical rearing, incorporating automation via robotics, sensors and data analytics that help to enhance productivity. Leveraging a $33 million (€30.2 million) Series B funding round raised in 2022 and backed by Mekong Capital, Dragon Capital and The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Vung Tau facility marks Entobel’s second industrial-scale production facility in Vietnam and will have an annual production capacity of 10,000 metric tonnes of insect protein. The facility hopes to serve as an economic and community anchor, creating 150 jobs in manufacturing and operations.
“The Entobel team has demonstrated capital allocation efficiency and execution excellence through the successful construction of two industrial-scale facilities in the last four years. Successful commissioning of the Vung Tau plant, one of the largest globally as measured by insect protein production capacity, has de-risked the operational and technological aspects of the business model, enabling the plant to serve as a blueprint for Entobel’s rapid regional expansion,” added Sandy Singh Sandhu, CFO of Entobel.
Filling the protein gap
Entobel has proven that it is possible and profitable to meet the growing global demand for sustainable feed ingredients. By 2050, consumption of protein is projected to increase by approximately 75 percent as the global population continues to rise. Aquaculture, as the fastest-growing animal protein sector globally, is expected to fill this protein gap. The company stated that the aquaculture industry will have to become more sustainable to meet its full growth potential as it currently relies heavily on fishmeal, which causes over-fishing and a significant loss of biodiversity to the world’s oceans.
According to the European Commission, traditional fishmeal has an average annual production of five million tonnes. Entobel claims that the most promising solution to the over-reliance on fish meal is functional insect-based ingredients.
Entobel’s end products include insect protein and insect oil which are consumed primarily by the aquaculture and livestock industries. Additionally, Entobel also produces insect frass, a sustainable base for fertiliser that reduces the need for chemical fertilisers that make up a large portion of agriculture field operational costs.
Strategy and expansion
The company selected Vietnam as its initial scale-up market for three core reasons:
- Vietnam’s tropical climate, which is the ideal environment for BSF, reducing capital and operational expenditures.
- The country’s position as one of the largest aquaculture hubs globally.
- Access to a stable supply of high-quality feedstock.
Entobel established a strategic collaboration with Heineken Vietnam, among other feedstock suppliers, to create a circular ecosystem by upcycling by-products of Heineken Vietnam’s production process into high-quality proteins, oils, and organic fertiliser, while simultaneously creating a stable supply of high-quality and traceable feedstock for Entobel.
Entobel hopes that from this, regional expansion within Vietnam will be possible followed by building new facilities in markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia.