The acquisition of Fair Insects, a Dutch insect breeder, will allow Protix to expand its range of insect-derived foods, which include meat replacements and health beverages.
It follows negotiations with Aqua-Spark, the first investment company focused on sustainable aquaculture, Rabobank, BOM and various private investors in raising €45m in funding.
Kees Aarts, CEO of Protix said the money raised would be used to “expand Protix’s production capacity”.
“We are very excited with this new Protix Company,” said Aarts. “With the diversification to additional species we can offer the broader range of exciting products our customers have requested over the years.
“Together with our black soldier fly-based ingredients, we can further work towards healthy nutrition for all living creatures on this planet and enable a low-footprint society.”
Black soldier fly larvae
Protix, which are based in Dongen in the Netherlands, have been in business since 2009. The firm offers a range of insect-based ingredients derived from end-of-life organic waste.
It added that it had been looking at smart acquisitions for two years and Fair Insects, with over 100 years of experience breeding yellow mealworms crickets and locusts, had been on its radar.
With Fair Insects’ facilities and operations on board, the next two years will see Protix increasing the production volume of these new insects while maintaining standards on quality and cost.
Protix’s production of the black soldier fly larvae, which is especially good at recovering proteins from food scraps, forms the mainstay of its insect-based ingredients that offer significant environmental benefits.
Insects offer a low-impact protein alternative that can be cultivated sustainably and offer a viable solution to the increased demand for meat and fish, which have had repercussions on climate change, deforestation and overfishing.
Europe is gradually coming round to the idea of using insect-derived ingredients in food, a practice that is well cultivated in African and Asian cultures.
The Netherlands and Switzerland are two countries that have taken insect cultivation for human consumption to the next level.
Swiss start-up Essento recently made its range of insect burgers and meatballs available in supermarkets after a recent shake-up of the country’s food safety laws.
This represents the first time that insect-derived products have been allowed into the human food chain in Switzerland.
Insect law in the EU
EU law that clarifies foods made from insects is currently in a period of transition with further updates expected in the beginning of next year.
The 1997 Novel Foods regulation (Regulation EC No 259/97) classifies insect food specifics, (such as protein isolates) and the legs, wings, head of the insect as ‘novel foods,’ and must obtain regulatory approval.
EU states have questioned whether this applies to whole insects or preparations like worm paste.
At the moment, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are a handful of countries that permit the sale of whole insect-based products.
The situation will receive some much-needed clarification on 1 January 2018 when the new Novel Foods regulation (Regulation EU 2015/2283) comes into force. This law will require insect-derived foods to undertake pre-market approval procedures.