Home Petfood Process <strong>Bio conversion to build a sustainably fed world</strong>

Bio conversion to build a sustainably fed world

<strong>Bio conversion to build a sustainably fed world</strong>

by Chris Haacke, Business Development Director, Agronutris, France

Agronutris is the first French biotech company specialised in black soldier fly rearing and transformation into high quality proteins. With more than 10 years of R&D, Agronutris is strongly engaged in order to provide high quality products for the feed and food sectors. As a human-centered organisation, it acts in collaboration with its partners to build a fair and sustainable agri-food industry. Its mission is to feed and preserve the world in a sustainable way.


The world population is growing fast and is expected to achieve 9.5 billion people by 2050. To cope with this rapid growth, humanity will have to produce more proteins in the next decades. At the same time, the petfood sector is growing fast due to the growing number of pets and needs more high quality sustainably produced proteins in order to respond to pets’ nutrition needs. And while the demand is getting higher and more specific, the sector is experiencing significant supply chain disruptions. The tensions the human food and animal feed sectors are facing today will only continue to increase in the future, implying stronger competition and higher prices.

Today, alternative proteins can be key in the further development of the petfood sector, and insects are definitely part of the solution. A high-quality animal protein with a limited impact on climate change and biodiversity can allow the petfood industry to continue to thrive and grow in a sustainable way.

France is playing a key role in the development of this industry. The French actors are currently industrialising their activities in order to answer the growing needs of the pet food industry for novel ingredients. Among them, Agronutris is launching its first factory, offering sustainable insect-based proteins produced thanks to locally sourced by-products of the agro-industry.

France, the promised land for insect rearing

Silicon Valley in the USA is known for its high-tech activities, Germany is strongly recognized for its car industry, Norway is known for its quality salmon… and while France is already recognized for its cheese and wines, the country adds a new string to its bow, with the insect industry developing rapidly!

Why? The French agro industry offers large volumes of by-products that can be used to feed insects. The French government is also a driving force for the development of the sector. It supports the French actors by offering favourable regulations and financial support, playing an important role in the development of the industry. In addition, the strong R&D culture in French education allows companies to build strong teams able to implement ambitious research programs. Setting up such a virtuous circle from an emerging industry is enabling the emergence of a real competitive advantage for the country.

The insect protein market is still in the early stages of growth. Research and development activities are underway to develop insect protein-based products, and these are only expected to accelerate, creating a valuable knowledge ecosystem. In France, this new ecosystem is made of a few strong actors, where competition pushes all of them to accelerate their scale-up. As evidence of this, France is the country with the most companies able to raise more than €50 million and is in the top three countries worldwide in terms of the number of start-ups in agtech and foodtech.

Agronutris; pioneering in the emerging industry of insect protein-based products

Created in 2011, Agronutris is a French biotech company specialised in rearing and transforming insects into proteins for animal nutrition. Eager to become one of the leaders of the industry, the company has raised more than 100 million euros in September 2021 and is currently launching its first industrial site in Rethel, in the North-East of France, and plans to deliver its first volumes at the end of Q2-2023. In the longer-term, Agronutris is planning to build multiple new factories worldwide by 2030.

Benefiting from over 10 years of experience in entomology and gathering experts from the Agro-Industry, the team of 50+ highly skilled professionals plans to offer high quality products with a low environmental impact for the pet food, aquaculture, and animal feed markets.

After having bred and evaluated multiple species of insects, the team selected the black soldier fly, having concluded that it offers the best advantages from an environmental, economic and technical perspective. With a shorter life cycle, its ability to valorise a large range of by-products, and with the quality of its protein, the black soldier fly can indeed play a key role in the implementation of a more circular economy, while keeping the quality of the products at high levels.

Finally, as a Human-centred company, Agronutris is committed to building strong, transparent and long-term relationships with all its partners, in order to develop, with them, a more fair and sustainable agri-food industry.

The Black Soldier Fly; an answer to the evolving requirements for the pet food

With an increased worldwide focus on achieving net-zero emissions, the shift to eco-friendly, sustainable products brings significant opportunities in paying more attention to the edible insect’s sector.

According to the FAO:

Insects produced for food emit considerably less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than most livestock. Ammonia emissions from insect farming are much lower than those from conventional livestock farming.

Insect farming is not necessarily land-based and increasing production does not require extensive land clearance. As a comparison, in terms of impact, soybeans are grown at the expense of the Amazon rainforest, and fishmeal’s production negatively affects global fish stocks.

Insects have a high feed conversion capacity. They can be reared on organic by-products, thus reducing environmental contamination while recovering waste. They also need way less water than other protein providers.

Because they are cold-blooded, insects are very efficient at converting their food into protein.

And indeed, insects can be an attractive source for highly qualitative-protein animal feed (van Huis, 2013). Studies have reported that insect meal, fish meal and soybean meal are quite similar in their amino acid profiles (Barroso et al., 2014; Pinotti et al., 2019).

Using bioconversion to feed and preserve the world

Every year, more than one third of the world’s food production is lost. This represents 1.3 billion tonnes of waste. It is generated throughout the whole value chain (farming, transformation, distribution, consumption). Only a small quantity of this volume is effectively recycled. In some regions, most of it ends its life in landfills or incinerators. Insects, and especially the black soldier fly, constitute a new promising recycling solution.

At the same time, demographic growth, climate change and new digital technologies strongly affect our world and call for a paradigm shift. Beyond bringing innovative technical solutions, these changes invite us to create new kinds of mission-driven organisations based on freedom, trust and shared governance, and conscious of their impact.

Agronutris has made the choice to move towards this new kind of holistic living organisation. As a team, Agronutris aims to work every day to give rise to a sustainable world fed and preserved through bioconversion in order to develop a fair and sustainable agri-food industry, in line with the company’s stakeholders.


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