Kees Aarts, Protix, © photo Bram Saeys
Author profile picture

With American meat processor Tyson Foods as a new shareholder, Protix wants to leap from Bergen op Zoom to the United States. According to FD, the new investment round for Protix totals €55 million, part of which will come from Tyson Foods. In addition to a minority stake for Tyson, agreements have also been reached on a joint venture to build an insect factory in the U.S., four times the size of the current location in the Netherlands. Protix has been breeding soldier fly larvae on a diet of food scraps since 2009. Best known as a processor of pork, beef, and chicken, Tyson Foods calls itself a “recognized leader in protein.”

In a joint press release, Tyson and Protix report that the investment is to support the growth of the emerging insect ingredient industry “and expand the use of insect solutions, creating more efficient sustainable proteins and fats for use in the global food system.” According to both parties, the agreement combines Tyson Foods’ global scale, experience, and network with Protix’s technology and market leadership to meet current market demand and scale up insect ingredient production. In Bergen op Zoom, the company processes the larvae into food ingredients for fish and livestock, among others. It grows 14,000 tons of live larvae annually, enough to feed five million salmon.

Closed system

Where in the U.S. the plant will be located has not been announced. The plant will have a closed system to facilitate all aspects of insect protein production, including the breeding, incubation, and hatching of insect larvae.

According to the press release, the goal of the plant is to create high-quality insect proteins and fats, which will be used primarily by pet food, aquaculture, and livestock companies. “The place of insects in the cycle provides the opportunity for full circularity within our value chain and reinforces our efforts to build a more sustainable food system for the future,” said John Randal Tyson, chief financial officer of Tyson Foods.

Kees Aarts, CEO of Protix, sees the deal as a milestone for his company: “The strategic partnership accelerates both of our work to create high-quality and more sustainable proteins using innovative technology and solutions. Moreover, we can directly use their existing by-products as feedstock for our insects.”