Investors are pouring money into Ynsect SAS, a French startup that will breed mealworms to feed fish and pets. A total $224 million of newly pledged funds will bring the company’s Series-C funding round to $372 million, one of the largest rounds for an insect farming startup.

Investors include Belgium’s Astanor Ventures, Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures Management and FootPrint Coalition, an investment group founded by “Iron Man” movie actor Robert Downey Jr., the company said in a statement.

The money will go into building one of the world’s biggest insect farms in Amiens, northern France, and expanding operations to North America and Asia, Ynsect said.

Rearing Bugs

Venture capital funding in insect farming. Insects are emerging as a sustainable solution to several problems. Using a fraction of land and emitting less carbon, they turn food waste into feed and offer an alternative source of protein. In fish farming, they’re starting to displace fishmeal, made from wild-caught fish. Researcher Arcluster expects the global insect market to exceed $4.1 billion in the next five years, from $473.4 million in 2020.

The investment shows that “for investors indeed this is a sector that’s more than promising,” Antoine Hubert, the company’s co-founder, said in an interview. “It’s not the future, it’s now.”

The company aims to be cash positive by the end of 2022, Hubert said.

The Amiens farm, run largely by robots, will produce about 100,000 tons of insect products a year, which will go into feeding fish, pets and fertilizing plants. The opening is scheduled for early 2022. Ynsect, which already runs a small plant in Burgundy, France, has secured over $105 million in sales contracts including from Spanish wine producer Miguel Torres SA and fishfeed producer Skretting AS, it said.

Source: Bloomberg

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