The Van Trump Report

Tyson is the Latest Ag Giant to Dive Into Insect Proteins

Tyson Foods is expanding into the insect protein market with a dual investment in startup “Protix.” Tyson will take a minority stake in Protix, a Netherlands-based insect ingredients maker. The two companies will also partner on a new U.S. facility that will “upcycle” byproducts from the food industry into insect proteins and lipids for use in livestock feed and pet food. Tyson joins a growing number of big ag and food companies – including ADM and Cargill- exploring insects as a reliable and more sustainable source of protein.

Most are probably familiar with Tyson, the world’s second-largest meat processor after JBS. Protix is an insect-protein ingredients company, producing and processing 14,000 metric tons annually. Protix says the new U.S. facility will be three to four times larger than its Netherlands facility, which has been in operation since 2019. The US plant will also house all aspects of insect production, from breeding to incubating to hatching of larvae.

Protix, which has global customers in the pet food, aquaculture feed, livestock feed, and organic fertilizer industries, uses food industry waste as feed for the black soldier fly. The new U.S. facility will use waste from Tyson’s meatpacking operations. The insects will be then be processed into bug-based meal and oil for the aquaculture and pet food industries with other possible uses in livestock and plant feed.

Insects are an appealing protein source for the feed industry. Farmed insects contain as much as 40% protein and 30% fat. Insect oil is also rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that helps improve the intestinal health of animals, especially piglets. Insects additionally have short lifecycles and can thrive on a wide variety of cheap and readily available feedstocks, including food industry waste, as with the planned Tyson-Protix facility. In fact, insects can bio-convert all manner of food production byproducts and agriculture waste, including manure, which in turn helps minimize waste and improve sustainability in the food supply chain. Insects also have hypoallergenic properties, making them suitable for pets with food sensitivities.        

One of the limiting factors to more widespread adoption of insects in animal feed is price relative to soy byproducts, by far the most common feed ingredient. However, the biggest barrier to the insect protein market is scale, according to Rabobank. Both the aqua feed and pet food industries say demand would be higher if the availability were higher, regardless of the premium price tag. Rabobank expects global demand for insect proteins could reach half a million tons annually by 2030, which would mark a 50 fold increase from the 10,000 tons produced in 2020.

Last year, ADM signed a partnership with French insect producer Innovafeed. The deal includes the construction and operation of what’s touted as the “world’s largest insect production site” in Decatur, Illinois. The factory, which will be co-located with ADM’s corn processing plant, is scheduled to open in late 2024. At full capacity, the companies say it will produce an annual volume of 60,000 metric tons of protein meal, 20,000 metric tons of oil, and 400,000 metric tons of fertilizer. ADM will supply corn byproducts to feed the insects, as well as waste heat, water recycling, and other utilities services

Innovafeed is also working with Cargill. The two companies last summer extended their existing three-year partnership to a 10-year supply deal for Cargill’s insect-based aquaculture feed, as well as for chicks and piglets. The companies said they aim to feed 20 million piglets with insect oil by 2026 as part of a wider alternative protein deal. (Sources: Watt Poultry Net, Reuters, CivilEats, AgFunder)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *