Vietnamese insect-based aquafeed firm raises €1m, plans 10,000t plant

Vietnamese insect-based aquafeed firm raises €1m, plans 10,000t plant
Black soldier fly. Credit: Entobel

Vietnam-based alternative aquafeed firm Entobel has raised €1 million in funding, and is planning a new plant to expand its operations in the near future, Belgian co-founder Gaetan Crielaard told.

The firm -- which produces a 60% protein ingredient from insect larvae, which it calls ``H-Meal`` -- is currently completing the setup of it commercial plant in Vietnam, with an expected capacity of 1,000 metric tons per year.

However, Crielaard and fellow co-founder Alexandre de Caters have raised €1 million in funding, from strategic Vietnamese investors and "business angels" from Western Europe -- mainly Belgium -- and are now planning a wider reach.

Now the firm plans to build a 10,000t H-Meal plant in Vietnam, beginning construction next year, and is also planning expansion wider within Southeast Asia and Latin America, it said.

``The biotech company is globally well positioned to become a major stakeholder in the insect protein industry, thanks to its low [capital expenditure] and [operating expenditure] model,`` it said. ``A research center will also be established to improve insect rearing and processing technologies. To achieve this ambitious goal, Entobel continues looking for strategic partners and investors.``

The first commercial batches from the existing plant will be available by mid-2019, and full capacity will be reached by the end of the year, said Crielaard.

After winning the 2017 Aquaculture Innovation Challenge in Ho Chi Minh City, the firm said it was seeking €9m in funding, and a Vietnamese partner. He told Undercurrent the firm had revised its funding targets slightly so as not to go ``straight in at €9m``, but that this was still an intermediary phase.

While he could not name his investors, he did say none of them were existing feed sector players at this stage.

Entobel has ``demonstrated the scalability and viability of its operations`` with the existing plant,  and investors have been ``attracted by the potential of the company to produce large volumes of insect protein at a price competitive with other standard protein sources``, the firm said.

The Hermetia illucens derived feed has been successfully tested by international feed companies, with trials performed for shrimp and several fish species, including snakehead and tilapia, it said.

Contact the author neil.ramsden@undercurrentnews.com

By Neil Ramsden | Source: Undercurrentnews | Last updated on: March 12, 2019

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