Tyson Foods has invested in insect-protein supplier Protix and plans to construct an insect ingredient facility in the United States, the food giant announced on Oct. 19.
The “strategic investment” will support the “growth of the emerging insect ingredient industry” and “expand the use of insect ingredient solutions to create more efficient sustainable proteins and lipids for use in the global food system,” Tyson Foods said in a statement announcing the investment.
The Springdale, Arkansas-headquartered meatpacker did not disclose the exact size of the minority stake it has purchased in the Dongen, Netherlands-based Protix, but said the deal will aid it in its efforts to develop solutions to create a food system that is more “sustainable and equitable” for future generations.
As part of the two-fold investment, the U.S.-based facility will support the breeding, incubation, and hatching of insect larvae. It is unclear where exactly the facility will be based; however, Kees Aarts, CEO of Protix, told Bloomberg that it will be four times larger than the company’s existing facility in the Netherlands.
Officials said the U.S.-based production facility will be the first of its kind to “upcycle food manufacturing byproducts into high-quality insect proteins and lipids” which will primarily be used to increase production of pet food, animal feed ingredients, and plant feed.
“Our partnership with Protix represents the latest strategic investment by Tyson Foods in groundbreaking solutions that drive added value to Tyson Foods’ business,” said John R. Tyson, chief financial officer of Tyson Foods. “The insect lifecycle provides the opportunity for full circularity within our value chain, strengthening our commitment to building a more sustainable food system for the future.”
Mr. Aarts called the direct equity investment a “major milestone” for the company that will significantly accelerate its ambitions to grow global gross revenue to around €1 billion by 2035 through international partnerships.
Insects ‘Significantly Reduce Our Carbon Footprint’
Protix was founded in 2009 and operates the world’s largest insect factory, producing more than 14,000 metric tons annually of protein using insect ingredients.
The deal comes as insect protein continues to grow in prominence, with the market expected to expand by a compound annual growth rate of 27.4 percent by 2028, according to Grand View Research.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) also noted in a February 2022 opinion piece that approximately 45 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in animal production are due to the feed production for the animals to consume, adding that insects are an “excellent alternative source of protein and significantly reduce our carbon footprint.”
The independent international organization, headed by Klaus Schwab, has also suggested billions of people may soon incorporate insects into their diet as “scarcity of resources and sustainability become increasingly important.”
In a 2018 article titled, “Good Grub: Why We Might Be Eating Insects Soon,” the WEF predicted it “may not be too long before we can all buy a bag of edible insects at our local grocery store.”
The European Union’s Food Safety Authority has already approved the use of some edible insects to be marketed as food ingredients in various items on supermarket shelves.
While speaking to Bloomberg after the announcement of the new agreement between Tyson Foods and Protix, Mr. Tyson said the insect-protein industry is a “multibillion-dollar industry opportunity that has tremendous growth potential,” adding that Protix is a world leader in the sector.
“In the long run, insect-protein inclusion in animal-feed diets can be a real thing that exists and can be one that is good for people, planet and animals,” Mr. Tyson said.