Spotted: Despite the fact that insects are a cheap and plentiful source of protein, which can be tastily fried or flavoured, many people are reluctant to eat them. French company Ÿnsect is not letting that stop them from developing their products, which are made for animals and plants, instead of humans.
Ÿnsect farms mealworms, before harvesting and processing them into a nutritional powder and oil. The company has built vertical farms to house the larvae, mimicking conditions that the larvae are exposed to in the wild. The stacks are 17 metres high and can produce 1,000 tonnes of insects per year while using 98 per cent less land and 50 per cent fewer resources.
Once mature, the mealworms are steamed, sterilised and processed, without the use of any chemicals. Five per cent of the larvae are allowed to mature and reproduce, to create a self-sustaining population. The company markets its insect protein, called ŸnMeal, to manufacturers of pet food and for use as aquaculture feed. The latter use received a major boost in 2017 when the EU approved the use of insect proteins in the diets of farmed fish.
In June 2020, Ÿnsect gained market approval for use of its plant fertiliser, which has been found to help plants grow faster than using traditional fertilisers. And all this is achieved using fewer resources than those to produce plant-based feed. Ÿnsect founder and CEO Antoine Hubert told Wired magazine that, “Insect proteins cannot solve all of our environmental problems. We are just part of the story. But in finding more resources and increasing nutrient diversity, we will solve the crisis and make for a fairer world.”
Ÿnsect claims its goal is to “reinvent the food chain,” and it is not the only company interested in using insects to develop sustainable products. Recently, Springwise has covered insect innovations including a bacteria that eats unrecyclable foam and the use of moths to break down fabric for recycling.
Written By: Lisa Magloff