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French start-up Ynsect raises $224m to build world's biggest bug farm

Suban Abdulla
·2-min read
Ynsect plans to use the raised capital to breed mealworms that produce proteins for livestock, pet food and fertilisers. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images
Ynsect plans to use the raised capital to breed mealworms that produce proteins for livestock, pet food and fertilisers. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

A French start-up has come up with a solution to solve the rising global demand for food and the lack of land by building an indoor insect farm.

The start-up raised the funds to build its second indoor farm from investors including Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition.

So far, Ynsect has raised $224m (£172m) this month to build the world's biggest bug farm in Amiens in northern France.

It plans to use the raised capital to breed mealworms that produce proteins for livestock, pet food and fertilisers.

The 40-metre-tall plant spread over 40,000 square metres is planning to open in early 2022. Ynsect will produce 100,000 tonnes of insect products such as flour and oil annually and conserve land use.

The move will create 500 jobs.

The farm will be “the highest vertical farm in the world and the first carbon-negative vertical farm in the world,” Ynsect CEO and co-founder Antoine Hubert told Reuters.

Speaking at Ynsect’s first factory, which it opened in Dole, eastern France in 2016, Hubert said: “It’s important to develop insect sectors today because the world needs more proteins, more food, more feed to feed the animals that will eventually make meat and fish. But beyond this, obviously, human food is a market.”

READ MORE: M&S prepares programme to tackle Christmas food waste

With the global population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050 and arable land per person expected to shrink to just 1,800 square meters by 2025, it is no surprise that many companies are looking at sustainable ways to meet demand.

Earlier this month a World Resources Institute analysis of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that demand for some meat products is expected to rise as much as 88% by 2050.

In June 2019, Israeli start-up Aleph Farms claimed to be the first company to have developed steak in a lab. Aleph Farms hopes to trial the steak in high-end restaurants in the US, Europe and Asia in 2021, with an official launch in restaurants and supermarkets in 2023.

Earlier this week, the Israeli company shot for the moon announcing its “Aleph Zero” programme to make meat in space to accelerate extraterrestrial food production.

While global hunger continues to rise, FAO estimates that coronavirus-related hunger could affect an additional 132 million people.

“Our future food systems need to provide affordable and healthy diets for all and decent livelihoods for food system workers, while preserving natural resources and biodiversity and tackling challenges such as climate change,” FAO said.

Watch: Plant-based steak from a 3D printer near you