By Karl Plume
Feb 2 (Reuters) – French biotech company InnovaFeed has signed a deal with U.S. grains merchant Archer-Daniels-Midland Co to supply insect protein to ADM’s pet food division, InnovaFeed announced on Wednesday.
InnovaFeed is beginning construction on a large insect farming plant later this year adjacent to ADM’s Decatur, Illinois, corn processing facility, which will supply feed for the insects as well as waste heat and water.
The plant is slated to produce feed ingredients from black soldier flies and fertilizer from their waste. InnovaFeed said it expects to open a research and development center at the site later this year, with commercial feed production to scale up by 2024.
Pet food makers are increasingly using insects such as flies, mealworms and crickets as a sustainable source of protein in pet food and treats, capitalizing on rising pet ownership and booming demand from environmentally conscious consumers. Farmed bugs require far less land, water and feed than livestock and they emit less greenhouse gasses.
“Insect protein is the next alternative protein ready to be scaled, with massive market potential,” said InnovaFeed Chief Executive Clement Ray.
Regulations in key markets have also been easing.
In 2021, European Union officials authorized the use of some farmed insects in human food, and U.S. pet food and animal feed regulators added black soldier flies to the list of insects that can be used in dog food.
The Decatur insect plant will have the capacity to produce 60,000 metric tons of protein and 20,000 tons of oils that will be used for pet foods and livestock, poultry and fish feed. The plant will also produce 400,000 tons of fertilizer from insect waste.
InnovaFeed is also aiming to produce insect-based ingredients for human consumption in products like energy bars and sports drinks.
ADM and InnovaFeed did not disclose financial terms of the deal. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago Editing by Marguerita Choy)