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Insect firm raises $2 million as it brings pet food online

Protenga, an insect-based protein company in Malaysia, has raised $2 million to develop its new production facilities and launch its own pet food brand, YumGrubs.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
10 March 2022, at 6:00am
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Protenga wants to lead the transition towards a sustainable, circular and regenerative food system

Protenga will launch its next generation of smart insect farms in Malaysia, converting organic by-products into high-value protein and organic fertiliser. The expansion is set to meet the rapidly increasing demand for insect-based ingredients for the pet food, aquaculture and animal feed markets and for high quality organic fertilisers to improve soil quality and crop production in South East Asia. The company is executing on its plans to make insect farming accessible and profitable as a basis for replication and regional expansion to become the largest insect company in South East Asia.

The company also aims to produce the world’s most sustainable pet food from farm to fork through a vertically integrated supply chain. Fresh produce from the smart insect farms will be used in Protenga’s new pet food production to make wholesome and delicious pet food under YumGrubs, the company’s own brand. Farmed black soldier flies are a high-quality source of clean protein for making dog food that is hypoallergenic, good for the planet and well received by dogs and their owners. As insect-based pet food continues to gain popularity globally, Protenga’s new production facility will also provide co-manufacturing for third-party and white-label brands to accelerate insect-based pet food’s growth and transition into the pet food mainstream.

dog next to pet food
YumGrubs uses black soldier fly larvae to produce sustainable and hypoallergenic dog food

With its previous $2 million seed round in 2020, the company has built and launched three facilities, enabling Protenga to produce significant double-digit tonnage every month, while using less than one third the capital compared to the industry. Production has ramped up tenfold within 2021 to reach installed capacity, with continuous improvements leading to the best production months yet in Q1 2022. Protenga’s proprietary data-driven production system (insectOS) produces more than 600,000 data points every day across its three production facilities, enabling consistent production, visibility and continuous improvement across the value chain.

Founder and CEO Leo Wein said, "The investment is a strong validation of the team’s hard work and our unique approach to make insect farming accessible and radically scaleable. We have demonstrated our technology to farm insects and we are ready to scale to have a global impact. Accessing debt financing starts our journey of bringing insect farming from being predominantly equity-financed to a broader set of financing options such as infrastructure financing or conventional bank loans and decouples the expansion of our physical production facilities from our equity-based growth investments in our technology and commercialisation platform. We have also been extremely pleased with the very positive customer and market feedback on our pet food offerings, providing validation of our team’s intensive R&D work over the last year."