After having read about 40+ companies in the sector and met with 20+ of them traveling from New York to LA to Toronto and London, we ended up meeting Antoine, the founder of Ynsect, in… Paris, a short walk away from home. Within 20 minutes of speaking with him, we knew this was the opportunity we were looking for.
Ÿnsect was built by a mission-driven and visionary team. They started R&D five years before we invested, while selling insect protein in western markets was still illegal. Antoine, the CEO, is an exceptional leader. As the founding president of IPIFF (the International Platform for Insects for Food and Feed) — the foremost industry association working with European institutions, industrial associations, and European Member States to evolve legislation in the space — Antoine travels the world to promote the insect sector. He and his co-founders, Jean-Gabriel Levon, Fabrice Berro and Alexis Angot, are perfectly complementary with 20+ years of experience in insect farming, manufacturing, energy and finance.
In addition to operating Ynstitue, the largest private research center in the world in insect protein, this team owns the largest patent portfolio in the sector. Leveraging their extensive experience in agro, robotics, and software, Ynsect developed a suite of proprietary robots to fully automatize all operations (feed supply, tray cleaning, dead and grass removal, separation etc.) and high-performance sensor-based software that measures over 100+ parameters to simulate and predict productivity. Today, Ÿnsect uses pioneering proprietary technology covered by 377 patents across 44 categories to produce lesser and yellow mealworms in fully automated vertical farms.
The results are there. Tests with industrial partners show that substituting 100% of fish meal with Ÿnsect’s #1 product increased body weight in the fish population by 30%, and showed a 18 % decrease of FCR — at a very competitive cost and pricing (vs. fishmeal).
Today, Ÿnsect runs three production sites, one in Dole, France (commissioned 2016), one in the Netherlands (2017), one in the USA (since 2022), and a third site, the world's largest vertical farm, in Amiens in France, is currently under construction. The company employs 360+ people and has raised around $500 million from significant global investment funds, banks and public bodies and exports its products worldwide.
The market is large, and the timing is now. If we just look at the animal feed market — a stunning $400 billion opportunity––insects are incredibly promising. According to the FAO, insect protein “can replace between 25% to 100% of soymeal or fishmeal depending on the animal species” diets with no adverse effects. And the EU Commission and the United States have regulated insect protein for both animal and human consumption.