Tallinn-founded startup FlyFeed has just raised €3 million for its idea to feed the world through sustainably accessing insect protein. The startup will now establish an industrial-sized insect farm in Vietnam to launch operations.
Feeding our ever-growing global population amidst climate, economic and various geopolitical crises is one of the defining challenges for the current and future generations. As a global society, we need to be creative in how we can sustainably and healthily feed ourselves, produce food and distribute it.
As a result of this need, foodtech and agritech innovators and startups are developing new protein alternatives and eco-friendly approaches to cultivation and farming. Now, Estonian startup FlyFeed is aiming to use insects to transform the global food supply chain.
FlyFeed has announced a €3 million seed round, just a year after its launch. The funding was led by angel investors.
The startup has already signed over €10 million in pre-contracts with top-tier European food producers and will use this funding to establish operations, further develop technological solutions and construct the first industrial-sized farm in Vietnam in 2023, producing affordable proteins, oils, and fertilizers from insects.
Using insects to tackle the food crisis
According to FlyFeed, insects could be the humble warrior that makes all the difference in addressing the global food crisis. The food tech startup produces insect protein, fat and fertilizers from black soldier flies for animal and pet food, and, in the future, aims to develop human food as well.
Arseniy Olkhovskiy, CEO and Founder of FlyFeed: “$5 billion invested in AgTech in 2021 shows that the fragile global food chain, relying on exhaustible natural resources, faces new challenges and needs a change. In this case, insect proteins are an effective solution that can transform inedible resources into nutritious proteins. Supported by laboratory tests and approved by local authorities, we will open 10 farms in Asia and Africa by 2026 and contribute to solving the global food shortage crisis.”
FlyFeed is on a mission to target the 3 billion people likely to face food insecurity, due to the current economic and geopolitical climate – a number that can only be expected to increase as climate change brings about drought, flooding and extreme weather systems that massively disrupt food production.
The startup has developed a production process that uses organic leftovers as insect feed, reducing the final price of manufactured protein and helping local governments solve food waste issues.
Whilst the farm is to open in Vietnam, FlyFeed follows strict EU standards and safety measures during each stage of production – meaning its products will be ready for the European market, with plans that include producing insect flour for human food by 2027.
The first farm in Vietnam will produce 17.5+ thousand tonnes of insect products per year, including insect fat, protein flour and fertilizers and process 40+ thousand tonnes of organic leftovers for BSF feed, gathered and processed for free by a partnership with local authorities. Vietnamese authorities support FlyFeed with land for building the factory, and the company is committed to processing up to 40 thousand tonnes of organic waste a year (e.g., fruits, vegetables, coffee and grain), and will add 200 new jobs in the region.
Dr. Nathalie Berezina, Chief Technology Officer, Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and Biotechnology: “Our farm enables the whole process of black soldier fly production: from the cultivation of larvae and its reproduction in hundreds of insectariums to grinding, extrusion and mixing. The farm will be equipped with leading tech solutions like smart data harvesting for farm operations and BSF life cycles, computer vision to monitor BSF larvae development and smart temperature control. This approach corresponds to the implementation of the 2nd generation of insect technologies applied to the industrial processes of insects’ production.”
The global protein market for animal feed is expected to reach €437 billion by 2030 However, regulations limit usual sources of protein for agriculture like soy and fishmeal, which also depend on weather conditions, geopolitical situations and logistic issues. Accessing insects to develop new sources of protein might require some shifts of perspectives, but it sure seems to be a viable option for sustainable life going forward.