Ÿnsect has been pursuing its vision of producing insects as a protein substitute for food for more than a decade. While first targeting animal feed and fertilizer, the company is now moving into human food products following regulatory approval last year of its insect-based protein powder.
The company has raised $425 million in venture capital and debt to build out its industrial farming system. This past year saw a dramatic acceleration as the company opened a new production facility, acquired Dutch company Protifarm to boost its mealworm production capacity, and expanded its U.S. presence.
CEO and co-founder Antoine Hubert joined Ethan Pierse and me on the French Tech News podcast to discuss the company's long road to this moment and its plans to revolutionize nutrition. It's a mission, Hubert said, that is more urgent than ever.
"We need to do more with less," Hubert said. "There are more people on Earth. Even if later this century the population will decline at some point, it will still increase through 2050 or 2060 to about 10 billion people. The middle class is growing and eating more meat and more fish and less plant-based proteins. So there is a need for more, but especially for better quality nutrients. And so we must do more with less to have less impact on the environment. Because we are reaching tipping points on very big topics like climate change and biodiversity."
Among the highlights last year: A shout-out on the Stephen Colbert show in the United States by one of Ÿnsect's most prominent investors, Robert Downey Jr.
Listen to the full conversation with Hubert here:
- 1:41 10 years of progress
- 4:29 Building an industrial agricultural company
- 9:20 Technical challenges, commercial challenges, then the regulatory challenge
- 13:09 Why do we want to feed the world with insects?
- 19:55 Feeding animals, great...but feeding people? Creating ingredients for sports nutrition, meat alternatives, and more...
- 26:10 Robert Downey Jr's fund, FootPrint Coalition, comes onboard
- 30:03 Scaling up insect-based feed in the US
- 32:26 Building a sustainable and impactful company
- 35:41 Largest vertical farm and insect production site in the world under construction in France