The startup insect-based dog treat company EntoNative raised EUR1.1 million (US$1.3 million) in a seed financing round. EntoNative received EUR950,000 from Brandenburg, Germany promotional bank ILB and EUR150,00 from other private investors. The fresh capital will be invested in the expansion of production and marketing. EntoNative manufactures snacks for dogs based on insects under the brand TeneTRIO.
With the seed investment, mealworm breeding at the company location in Potsdam, Germany will be further expanded and expanded, while on the other hand product development and production will be financed.
"In addition, funds should flow into marketing activities and the expansion of sales diet,” said EntoNAtive CEO, Ina Henkel, PhD, in a press release.
History of EntoNative
EntoNative started as a research project at the Institute of Nutrition Science at the University of Potsdam in Germany, under the direction of Florian J. Schweigert, DVM. The idea for the insect treats arose during a study trip in Asia.
"Many dogs suffer from allergies, obesity or other diseases that are often due to poor,” said Henkel. “Our products are made entirely from natural ingredients and the mealworms provide valuable nutrients.”
The TeneTRIO insect-based dog treats are sold online and the products are shipped to all of Germany. For the time being, the company's expansion and sales plans are focused on Germany and subsequently to Austria and Switzerland.
Popularity of and barriers to insects in pet food
Insects have been growing in popularity as a pet food ingredient over the past several years. Both people and pets regularly eat insects unwittingly, since the tiny animals’ pieces are frequent accidental additions to plant-based foods. While some may gag at the thought of beetle pieces in their own oatmeal or dog’s kibble, intentionally using those six-or-more-legged protein sources as a replacement for four- and two-legged animals has grown in acceptance.
Insects have been growing in popularity as a pet food ingredient over the past several years. Although insect farms provide healthy protein using less resources than other animals, barriers such as regulatory, production and supply issues have stymied the use of insects, except for a few pioneering dog food and treats, wrote Debbie Phillips-Donaldson in her Petfood Industry blog “Pet food trends: Are Western consumers ready for insects?”
On the regulatory front, Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) members decided that new AAFCO definitions would be needed for each insect and type of insect-based ingredient, such as flour, meal or protein concentrate. Additionally, the definitions would need to consider the species to which the insect-based ingredient would be fed. To date, only one insect, black solder fly larvae (AAFCO #T60.117) has been defined by AAFCO, and that is limited to use in salmon aquaculture.