Today Flying Spark, an Israeli startup that makes food products from larval insect protein, announced a partnership with Thai Union Group PCL, one of the world’s largest seafood producers. As part of the deal, Thai Union will also invest in the Israeli company.
Thai Union did not disclose how much it would invest in Flying Spark. However, a press release sent to The Spoon did reveal that this is the first investment by Thai Union from its new $30 million venture fund intended for food tech companies, including those in the alternative protein space.
While dining on larvae might not sound appetizing, at least to most Western consumers, insects are actually an incredibly sustainable source of protein. They require very little food or water, grow quickly, and the whole insect can be eaten — which means no food waste.
Companies like Aspire (which acquired cricket protein bar company Exo), Chirp’s, Orchestra Provisions and others are all trying to get Western consumers to eat insects. Even some celebrities have taken up the cause to advocate for bugs.
Considering Thai Union is one of the world’s largest seafood producers, however, their interest might be more focused on insect protein’s other main use: cheap, sustainable animal feed.
Currently the majority of feed for farmed fish is made from, well, smaller fish. That can be expensive and also means that those fish can’t be sold to consumers. Using insects to cultivate farmed fish could be a cheaper high-protein option.
If that is indeed the route they’re going, Flying Spark won’t be the first to get into the space. Last year French startup Ÿnsect raised €110 million (~$124 million) to build a giant farm to grow larvae for fish feed. However, with demand for fish predicted to increase by more than 50 percent over the next 15 years, there’ll be plenty of room for multiple players to swim onto the scene.