French insect protein producer scaling up

60 second interview: InnovaFeed bitten by the bug

© istock/pepsikan

August saw French insect protein producer, InnovaFeed, set up R&D laboratories at Genopole in Evry, a hub near Paris focused on biotech, genomics and genetics research.

The biotech company produces insect meal and oil and is focused on the aquaculture sector; it is also exploring how to use the antibacterial properties of insect larvae.

As it is set to boost output by early 2017, we got the low down on InnovaFeed's ambitions from its one of the co-founders, Guillaume Gras:

FeedNavigator: Can you expand on the development of InnovaFeed's R&D capabilities this summer?

Guillaume Gras: By locating our headquarters and R&D facility at Genopole, we anchored our base in France, which has the largest agro-industry in Europe. It’s a pillar of our strategy given that the entire business model for the insect industry relies on the ability to source nutritious, traceable, plant-based by-products at an affordable price.

This long-term installation in such a favorable environment also allows us to attract talented people to [what is] one of the most promising and flourishing industry for the coming decades.

FeedNavigator: Is InnovaFeed a start-up?

Guillaume Gras: Yes, and no actually! When we look at the pace we are developing, at our growth curve, it’s clearly the one of a start-up. But on the other side, we have set-up such high-standards internally, that our process looks like [that of a global scale] company.

FeedNavigator: Has InnovaFeed received investor backing?

Guillaume Gras: Of course, it’s at the cornerstone of our development. We are currently scaling up our production plant and you need funds for that. And, actually, we picked investors with experience in the agro-biotech industry to benefit from their advice and network. It’s clear win-win deal.

FeedNavigator: Is InnovaFeed selling insect based products already, and, if so, to which target markets, and where?

Guillaume Gras: In fact, 2016 is marked as the year we signed and delivered our first sales, which was a great achievement for the whole team. As we then didn’t have the capabilities necessary to process our insect larvae as we wanted, we looked for markets where just dried larvae would fit. We sold that directly to ornamental fish owners looking for healthy treats.

FeedNavigator: How confident is InnovaFeed of EU regulatory amendments occurring in the next few months to enable insect based protein meal to be used in European aquaculture?

Guillaume Gras: Since the release of the EFSA report last year, we think there is quite a broad consensus that insect protein should be allowed to be used in feed for aquaculture. Through the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), insect producers in Europe have been collaborating with EU authorities to provide transparency on our products and processes as well as working together to develop techniques and practices ensuring the highest standard of quality, traceability and protection of the end-consumers.

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