"Innovafeed is committed to securing food supply for tomorrow’s world"

While six-figure fundraisings have been rare in the French market in recent months, one company to buck the trend is Innovafeed, an agritech startup that specializes in insect breeding and processing for use in animal nutrition. The company recently concluded a €250 million series D fundraising that will allow it to expand into the US market. Leaders League got the thoughts of co-founder Clément Ray.

Posted mercredi, novembre 23 2022
"Innovafeed is committed to securing food supply for tomorrow’s world"

Leaders League: Consumers are still squeamish about the thought of eating insect-based food. Why did you decide to focus on this sector?
Clément Ray: In 2016, when I created Innovafeed alongside Aude Guo and Bastien Oggeri, the idea was to harness the potential of insects in order to make the global food-supply system more sustainable and respectful of the environment. The core concept of Innovafeed is a simple one: to give insects the same status in the food system as they have in the food chain in nature. We do this by recycling organic waste to nourish insects and reintroduce them into the food chain, as insects are naturally consumed by birds, fish and a range of other animals. 

We were convinced that, for our mission to succeed, we had to implement a large-scale model, using the latest technology and sustainable industrial-production model. The project coincided with a change in European legislation that, since 2017, authorizes the use of insects in animal feed. Today, we produce flour, oils and fertilizer for the aquaculture industry – which represents almost 50% of our orders – but also for petfood and, to a lesser extent, feed for swine and poultry.
Several sovereign-wealth funds, have invested in Innovafeed. What attracted them to your project?
The Qatar Investment Authority, Temasek and Bpifrance are investors, as well as certain institutionals. The requirements that this type of investor has is not to turn a profit within five years; they are less worried by short-term fluctuations in the market, than they are attracted by deep rooted trends, notably in companies providing services that the world will need in the future.

Innovafeed develops insect-based products designed for human consumption, such as meat substitutes

Securing the food supply for tomorrow’s world and reducing the impact on the environment are precisely the sort of challenges that attract them. Lastly, we also have an unusual capital composition, with two agricultural commodities giants, Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) and Cargill, arriving during the most recent fundraising round. 

You recently raised €250 million in Series D funding. What will this be used for?
There are three main avenues. Firstly, we intend to expand our existing facilities in the Somme region. The second is to establish a production site in the United States and, lastly, we want to invest in tech and R&D, because the market is in constant evolution. To help us achieve these goals, we have recruited Yves Amsellem, formerly of Danone, as our chief operating officer, to accelerated Innovafeed’s commercial and operational development. 

Can producing insects for human consumption be a viable business? 
Even if this market will take time to develop, we believe in its potential, since the value proposition is strong, given the environmental and health benefits to this type of food. As a consequence, we are developing products designed for human consumption, such as meat substitutes. However there is a long road ahead of us as, in many countries, people are just not ready to consume insect-based products. But things are changing, notably in the United States, where the regulatory environment is quite favorable for developing this type of business.