The European Commission is to part fund an ambitious insect protein factory in northern France, together with a joint feed supply chain consortium.

The Farmyng project aims to establish the facility at Poulainville near Amiens, using the Ÿnsect company’s patented Ynfarm technology based on mealworm (Tenebrio Molitor) larvae, but at commercial scale.

The factory should open in 2021. It will be fully automated, with vertical farming techniques to save energy and space, with data sensors allowing the operators to track insect productivity and growth.

Ÿnsect already has a pilot plant at Dôle in the Jura region of eastern France, which can produce up to 30 tonnes of insect protein per month. But the new Poulainville plant could make over 1,500 tonnes of protein in the same time.

The project is co-funded with a €20 million grant from the Commission with an unknown contribution from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) consortium of 20 companies and institutions.

The joint undertaking includes ADM Chamtor, Ajinomoto Animal Nutrition Europe and Mg2Mix; the larvae supplier Star Food and end-users Skretting, Virbac, Compo and Torres. Eurofins will provide quality assurance services with a number of technology suppliers and research institutes also involved.

The project could produce up to 200,000 tonnes of premium proteins over the next decade, generate €1 billion sales and create 1,200 direct and indirect jobs. The investors believe it will displace the need for up to 800,000 tonnes of wild fish meals in aquaculture feeds.

The larvae can convert low grade organic matter to protein feed with less environmental impact than many other conventional sources, as part of a circular economy with zero waste.

“For BBI JU, funding the first industrial biorefinery able to turn insects into premium, high-value proteins for animal feed and fertilizers was a strategic priority,” says Philippe Mengal, executive director of BBI JU. “One of our key goals is to de-risk investments like this that have a significant socioeconomic impact. The flagship Farmyng project will also further BBI JU’s strategic aim of reducing the EU’s reliance on massive protein imports.”