French insect meal producer invests in two new factories

European pet food producers seeking alternative sources of protein like insects will soon find more insect meal and fats on the market from Agronutris.

Agronutris says its flagship Ultra’in insect meal is a protein-rich solution for pet food nutrition.
Agronutris says its flagship Ultra’in insect meal is a protein-rich solution for pet food nutrition.
Courtesy of Agronutris

French insect protein producer Agronutris has unveiled plans to invest about €100 million (US$116 million) to launch two new factories in northeastern France that will supply a large share of their output to the European pet food industry.

Mehdi Berrada, chief executive and co-founder of Agronutris, said the first new production facility, which is to process about 70,000 tons of raw material per year, will be open by the end of 2022, and the second, with capacity to process 210,000 tons annually, is to be launched in 2024.

Offering insect meal and fat to pet food industry

Agronutris currently supplies its output to an unnamed European pet food industry player, but Berrada says the company plans to further scale up its production capacities and secure a leading position in Europe.

“This investment will be financed with our own funds and also debt [due] to our investors, as well as with subsidies acquired from the French authorities,” Berrada said. “Our main product for the pet food industry is our insect meal, but we’re also working to offer insect fats. To open the first factory, we will employ 60 persons, and the second plant will generate between 100 and 120 new jobs.”

Agronutris says its product is 100% bio-sourced, and it is the result of 10 years of research and development work by the company’s team.

Benefits, opportunities from insect protein

As part of its R&D efforts, the business is currently testing and analyzing new products in cooperation with prospective customers from the pet food industry to “make sure these products fit their expectations,” according to Berrada.

Asked about the role his company wants to play in the European markets, the chief executive said that there was a need for several major insect protein producers to boost their output capacities so leading pet food producers could be convinced to significantly transform their formulas.

“Insect protein is a great opportunity for pet food producers for several reasons,” Berrada explained. “There will be a shortage of animal protein in the coming years, and a rising number of producers are working on reducing the environmental impact of their formulas by looking for sustainable protein like ours.

“Our insect-based products ensure a 60% protein concentration,” he continued. “Compared with other animal protein, we use less water and energy. Another growth driver is the increasing premiumization of pet food products.”

Note: This article has been updated to correct the name of Agronutris' chief executive and co-founder, Mehdi Berrada. We regret the error.

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