Aquaculture for all

Ÿnsect unveils €20 million mealworm facility

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French mealworm farming firm Ÿnsect today has unveiled plans for a fully automated €20 million facility, which will eventually be capable of producing 200,000 tonnes of insect protein a year.

The project, called FARMYNG, is based in the city of Amiens and is co-funded by the European Commission and the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) who are investing €20 million. Ÿnsect will produce mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) on an industrial scale, including for the aquaculture feed industry.

Aquafeed producer Skretting is due to use the mealworm protein in some of its fish feeds

FARMYNG brings together 20 key players in the bioeconomy, spanning every link in the value chain. It includes three raw materials and nutritional solutions suppliers (ADM Chamtor, Ajinomoto Animal Nutrition Europe and Mg2Mix), a larvae supplier (Star Food), two research facilities (CRA-W and CEA-Genoscope), four tech suppliers (Ÿnsect, Clextral, TGC Extrusion and Ulma), a quality-control specialist (Eurofins), a sustainability consultant (Quantis), an innovation consultant (PNO), four end-users (Skretting, Virbac, Compo and Torres) and three bio-economy clusters (IAR, CLIB and WPCC).

The project has the potential to ramp up production to over 200,000 tonnes of protein, with revenues of around €1 billion and the creation of 1,200 direct and indirect jobs. In addition, the company claims, the plant “will benefit the environment hugely by avoiding the need to reduce wild fish stocks by 800,000 tonnes”.

Antoine Hubert, founder and CEO of Ÿnsect

Mealworm comprise more than 70 percent protein and are a natural source of nutrients for a wide array of animals: including fish, poultry, pigs, dogs and cats. The mealworm consumes all sorts of organic matter, even low-grade materials. It grows quickly and requires less space, less earth and less water than other animal protein sources. It also gives off less ammonia and fewer greenhouses gases than other premium animal proteins. The entire production system is modelled on a circular economy with zero-waste.

The technology used in the FARMYING project was developed by Ÿnsect, which has 25 patents on its innovations. The technology is already being used at the first Ÿnsect site in Dôle, in the Jura region of eastern France, which has a capacity to produce up to 30 tonnes a month. FARMYNG will optimise the entire process at the new Poulainville plant on the outskirts of Amiens and boost monthly output to over 1,500 tonnes of protein.

The Amiens site is due to open in 2021, when it will be one of the first Industry 4.0 factories on the continent. It is both fully automated and uses vertical farming techniques to save both energy and space. The site also features many data sensors, enabling Ÿnsect teams to develop predictive models to track insect productivity and growth.

Speaking at the official launch, Antoine Hubert, CEO and founder of Ÿnsect, said the FARMYNG project would "lay the foundations for a new protein supply chain to meet the world's immense food challenge".

Philippe Mengal, executive director of BBI JU, added: "Funding the first industrial biorefinery able to turn insects into premium, high-value proteins for animal feed and fertilizers was a strategic priority. One of our key goals is to de-risk investments like this that have a significant socioeconomic impact. The flagship FARMYNG project will also further BBI JU's strategic aim of reducing the EU's reliance on massive protein imports.”

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