DOLE, France (Reuters) - Growing global demand for food is putting a squeeze on available land and one French startup says it has the answer: indoor insect farming.
Ynsect raised $224 million from investors including Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr.'s Footprint Coalition this month to build a second insect farm in Amiens in northern France.
The company breeds mealworms that produce proteins for livestock, pet food and fertilisers, and will use the funds to build what it says will be the world's largest insect farm.
Due to open in early 2022, it will produce 100,000 tonnes of insect products such as flour and oil annually and conserve land use while creating 500 jobs.
The 40-metre-tall plant spread over 40,000 square metres, will be "the highest vertical farm in the world and the first carbon-negative vertical farm in the world," Ynsect CEO and co-founder Antoine Hubert told Reuters.
He spoke at the company's first factory, which it opened in Dole, eastern France in 2016, where conveyor belts carried trays with millions of squirming mealworms.
"It's important to develop insect sectors today because the world needs more proteins, more food, more feed to feed the animals that will make eventually meat and fish...But beyond this, obviously, human food is a market," Hubert said.
(Reporting by Ardee Napolitano; writing by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Geert De Clercq and Jason Neely)