Cape Town firm that makes food from bugs gets R81m from investors

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Inseco, which operates the biggest insect protein plant in the southern hemisphere, said it raised $5.3 million (R81 million) in South Africa’s biggest ever startup seed funding round.

The round was led by Futuregrowth Asset Management and included the participation of E4E Africa and Oak Drive Ventures, Inseco said in a statement sent to Bloomberg on Thursday.

Inseco operates a 10 000 square meter plant in Cape Town that converts the larvae of the black soldier fly into 100 tons of insect oil and meal a month. Insect products are high in nutrients and, because of the efficiency of the process, is seen as a climate-friendly way of feeding farmed fish and poultry, and supplying pet food.

“We’re seeing the importance of sustainability, and the responsibility that we have to be a more resource-efficient society for future generations,” Simon Hazell, the company’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “Insects will play an important role in this transition, becoming a widely available source of sustainable protein, and an important form of nutrition to help meet the food demands of the future.”

Futuregrowth, South Africa’s biggest specialist fixed-income investor, has invested in a number of startups including SweepSouth, Africa’s largest online home-services platform.

Inseco competes globally with enterprises such as the Netherlands’ Protix BV, France’s Ynsect SAS and Innova Feed, Canada’s Enterra Feed Corp and US company EnviroFlight LLC.

It’s is targeting what it sees as a 500 000 ton market for insect protein by 2030 and a global pet food market worth R578 billion with expansion seen out of South Africa into the rest of the continent as well as Europe and the US.

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