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这家公司准备卖食用昆虫,获得好莱坞明星投资

这家公司准备卖食用昆虫,获得好莱坞明星投资

Vivienne Walt 2020年10月14日
土地和海洋面临的巨大压力,使饲养食用昆虫的理由变得极其充分。

新冠疫情正在改变人们长久以来的消费习惯。如今又有一种禁忌将被打破,它就是可以食用的昆虫。数十年来,我们都对吃昆虫这种行为感到恶心。但我们或许要做好准备,让那些蠕动的小爬虫们进入我们的食物供应链。

虫子似乎正在走红。上周(一只苍蝇在美国副总统竞选辩论中闻名全球的前一天),法国昆虫饲养初创公司Ÿnsect宣布融资3.72亿美元。这笔投资极大鼓舞了这个小众市场。该公司称将加快落实在美国进行大规模生产的计划。甚至有好莱坞明星参与了此次投资:小罗伯特•唐尼创建的注重生态环保的基金FootPrint Coalition对该公司进行了债务和股权投资,投资额约为2.24亿美元。

唐尼在该基金的网站上宣布了投资该公司的决定,他用到了有关昆虫的双关语:“我挖到了它。Ÿnsect的工艺不会产生任何废弃物,而且符合联合国的可持续发展目标。”

事实上,土地和海洋面临的巨大压力,使饲养昆虫的理由变得极其充分。联合国粮食及农业组织(U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization)统计,地球上约26%的耕地被用于放牧,至少三分之一的作物被用于生产牲畜饲料,饲料行业的规模高达每年5,000亿美元,依赖大豆和玉米等农产品,但它们的蛋白质含量不敌昆虫,而且种植成本更高。海洋的情况也不容乐观:据联合国粮食及农业组织统计,2018年共有约2,200万吨野生鱼类被捕捞后用于制作鱼食,而不是被人类食用。

尽管如此,Ÿnsect用了很长时间才赢得业界的支持。Ÿnsect的联合创始人及首席执行官安托万•休伯特在2011年创立了这家公司。他说:“三年前,我们要花更大力气做技术推广。”新冠疫情的爆发使情况出现了转变。当时全世界经历了几个月的封城,全球供应链一片混乱。休伯特说:“过去几个月,有更多公司主动找到我们。农业公司希望收集昆虫的粪便。”

高蛋白

这家公司与大型农业公司的区别非常明显。2016年,在法国东部小镇多勒,休伯特在一处中型工业建筑中开了一家垂直工厂,饲养一种甲虫黄粉虫的幼虫。工厂靠近瑞士边境。2018年,《财富》杂志曾经参观过这座工厂。当时我们看到传送带上的托盘里装有数百万只蠕动的粉虫,它们以从当地农场里收集的农业废弃物为食。Ÿnsect将这些粉虫制成高蛋白的宠物食品和牲畜饲料,不需要占用耕地或者从海洋里捕鱼。Ÿnsect认为,人类(至少在西方国家)坦然接受把昆虫当作食物,还需要一些时间。但在此之前,昆虫将会逐渐变成我们所吃的鸡鸭鱼肉中的一种重要成分。

2018年,Ÿnsect的联合创始人及首席执行官安托万•休伯特从生产线上拿起一把黄粉虫的幼虫。图片来源:Photograph by Veronique de Viguerie

休伯特表示,Ÿnsect已经与饲料和化肥公司签署了价值约1.05亿美元的合同。他表示,公司已经融资约4.25亿美元,超过了其他昆虫饲养初创公司融资金额的总和,包括加拿大的Enterra。但一些老牌公司也在加大对这个领域的投资。今年1月,在纽约证券交易所上市的Darling Ingredients全资收购了位于俄亥俄州的EnviroFlight公司。他们都盯上了这个庞大的高蛋白昆虫饲料以及未来的食品市场。

Ÿnsect最新一轮融资由比利时的Asatnor Ventures领投。另外,法国多家银行、深耕科技领域的法国基金Supernova、卢森堡Armat Group和中国香港的Happiness Capital也参与了投资。

对于农业科学家休伯特而言,他的成功经历了一个漫长的过程。他曾经花费数年时间研究昆虫作为一种蛋白质来源的可行性。早在2000年代晚期,他就开始向学生介绍如何在盒子里用香蕉皮等有机废弃物饲养蠕虫。后来他意识到自己可以扩大规模,于是他找到了一位饲养昆虫做鱼饵的农民,并聘请他帮助成立了Ÿnsect。

如今,休伯特正在建设一家规模更大的工厂。这家工厂位于法国总统埃曼努尔•马克龙的家乡亚眠,预计将在一年后投入运营。另外,该公司正在美国寻找办厂地点,工厂最早可能在2022年开业。休伯特说,美国工厂可能与大型农业公司合作,目前已经有多家农业公司私下与Ÿnsect讨论过合作事宜。休伯特表示:“与他们合作,在办理许可、建筑转包等方面会变得更容易。”

他表示,昆虫制成的宠物食品通过美国食品与药品管理局(Food and Drug Administration)和美国农业部(U.S. Department of Agriculture)的试验之后,计划明年夏天之前在美国开卖。

事实上,昆虫饲养在欧盟和美国都面临着复杂的监管障碍。在欧洲,饲养的昆虫必须遵守与其他饲养动物相同的规定。休伯特的鱼粉产品经过许多年才获准销售。未来他将销售家禽和牲畜饲料,最终推出人类食品;他希望明年欧盟能够批准销售可供人类食用的昆虫。在美国,为了获得销售宠物食品的许可,他已经花费了接近两年时间,他相信很快就会有结果。

“刚刚开始”

这才刚刚开始。随着股东向农业公司施压,要求他们减少碳排放,许多公司开始考虑如何回收再利用大规模生产产生的大量副产品和废弃物。位于旧金山的食品行业企业家尼古拉斯•博纳迪是Ÿnsect的董事会成员。他说:“投资者越来越重视地球环境问题。我相信这只是开始。”

博纳迪表示,他预测公司在高度开放的美国市场会迎来大幅增长。随着农业企业开始重视昆虫饲养,未来Ÿnsect肯定会有大量竞争对手,但先行一步的Ÿnsect有着明显的优势。博纳迪说:“学习曲线很长。你要饲养的是无人知晓的物种。”而且,他说随着Ÿnsect日益重视可持续发展,它的吸引力会与日俱增。他表示:“投资者希望把资金投向对地球有益的项目当中。”

数据显示,饲养昆虫这个行业对地球的好处是无可争议的。

目前,人类还可以养活自己。但随着人口的增长,农业需要迅速做出彻底的改变,尤其是在农作物被洪水和野火毁灭的频率越来越高的时候。联合国粮食及农业组织的预测不容乐观。该机构称:“如果饲养牲畜的所有作物40%被人类直接食用,到2050年,地球上的耕地才足以养活90亿人。在气候变化的背景下,这一点至关重要。”

随着可用耕地不断减少,很快除了在室内大规模饲养昆虫以外,恐怕没有更好的办法喂饱全世界的牲畜。这个行业的潜力值得电影明星们深入挖掘。(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

新冠疫情正在改变人们长久以来的消费习惯。如今又有一种禁忌将被打破,它就是可以食用的昆虫。数十年来,我们都对吃昆虫这种行为感到恶心。但我们或许要做好准备,让那些蠕动的小爬虫们进入我们的食物供应链。

虫子似乎正在走红。上周(一只苍蝇在美国副总统竞选辩论中闻名全球的前一天),法国昆虫饲养初创公司Ÿnsect宣布融资3.72亿美元。这笔投资极大鼓舞了这个小众市场。该公司称将加快落实在美国进行大规模生产的计划。甚至有好莱坞明星参与了此次投资:小罗伯特•唐尼创建的注重生态环保的基金FootPrint Coalition对该公司进行了债务和股权投资,投资额约为2.24亿美元。

唐尼在该基金的网站上宣布了投资该公司的决定,他用到了有关昆虫的双关语:“我挖到了它。Ÿnsect的工艺不会产生任何废弃物,而且符合联合国的可持续发展目标。”

事实上,土地和海洋面临的巨大压力,使饲养昆虫的理由变得极其充分。联合国粮食及农业组织(U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization)统计,地球上约26%的耕地被用于放牧,至少三分之一的作物被用于生产牲畜饲料,饲料行业的规模高达每年5,000亿美元,依赖大豆和玉米等农产品,但它们的蛋白质含量不敌昆虫,而且种植成本更高。海洋的情况也不容乐观:据联合国粮食及农业组织统计,2018年共有约2,200万吨野生鱼类被捕捞后用于制作鱼食,而不是被人类食用。

尽管如此,Ÿnsect用了很长时间才赢得业界的支持。Ÿnsect的联合创始人及首席执行官安托万•休伯特在2011年创立了这家公司。他说:“三年前,我们要花更大力气做技术推广。”新冠疫情的爆发使情况出现了转变。当时全世界经历了几个月的封城,全球供应链一片混乱。休伯特说:“过去几个月,有更多公司主动找到我们。农业公司希望收集昆虫的粪便。”

高蛋白

这家公司与大型农业公司的区别非常明显。2016年,在法国东部小镇多勒,休伯特在一处中型工业建筑中开了一家垂直工厂,饲养一种甲虫黄粉虫的幼虫。工厂靠近瑞士边境。2018年,《财富》杂志曾经参观过这座工厂。当时我们看到传送带上的托盘里装有数百万只蠕动的粉虫,它们以从当地农场里收集的农业废弃物为食。Ÿnsect将这些粉虫制成高蛋白的宠物食品和牲畜饲料,不需要占用耕地或者从海洋里捕鱼。Ÿnsect认为,人类(至少在西方国家)坦然接受把昆虫当作食物,还需要一些时间。但在此之前,昆虫将会逐渐变成我们所吃的鸡鸭鱼肉中的一种重要成分。

2018年,Ÿnsect的联合创始人及首席执行官安托万•休伯特从生产线上拿起一把黄粉虫的幼虫。

休伯特表示,Ÿnsect已经与饲料和化肥公司签署了价值约1.05亿美元的合同。他表示,公司已经融资约4.25亿美元,超过了其他昆虫饲养初创公司融资金额的总和,包括加拿大的Enterra。但一些老牌公司也在加大对这个领域的投资。今年1月,在纽约证券交易所上市的Darling Ingredients全资收购了位于俄亥俄州的EnviroFlight公司。他们都盯上了这个庞大的高蛋白昆虫饲料以及未来的食品市场。

Ÿnsect最新一轮融资由比利时的Asatnor Ventures领投。另外,法国多家银行、深耕科技领域的法国基金Supernova、卢森堡Armat Group和中国香港的Happiness Capital也参与了投资。

对于农业科学家休伯特而言,他的成功经历了一个漫长的过程。他曾经花费数年时间研究昆虫作为一种蛋白质来源的可行性。早在2000年代晚期,他就开始向学生介绍如何在盒子里用香蕉皮等有机废弃物饲养蠕虫。后来他意识到自己可以扩大规模,于是他找到了一位饲养昆虫做鱼饵的农民,并聘请他帮助成立了Ÿnsect。

如今,休伯特正在建设一家规模更大的工厂。这家工厂位于法国总统埃曼努尔•马克龙的家乡亚眠,预计将在一年后投入运营。另外,该公司正在美国寻找办厂地点,工厂最早可能在2022年开业。休伯特说,美国工厂可能与大型农业公司合作,目前已经有多家农业公司私下与Ÿnsect讨论过合作事宜。休伯特表示:“与他们合作,在办理许可、建筑转包等方面会变得更容易。”

他表示,昆虫制成的宠物食品通过美国食品与药品管理局(Food and Drug Administration)和美国农业部(U.S. Department of Agriculture)的试验之后,计划明年夏天之前在美国开卖。

事实上,昆虫饲养在欧盟和美国都面临着复杂的监管障碍。在欧洲,饲养的昆虫必须遵守与其他饲养动物相同的规定。休伯特的鱼粉产品经过许多年才获准销售。未来他将销售家禽和牲畜饲料,最终推出人类食品;他希望明年欧盟能够批准销售可供人类食用的昆虫。在美国,为了获得销售宠物食品的许可,他已经花费了接近两年时间,他相信很快就会有结果。

“刚刚开始”

这才刚刚开始。随着股东向农业公司施压,要求他们减少碳排放,许多公司开始考虑如何回收再利用大规模生产产生的大量副产品和废弃物。位于旧金山的食品行业企业家尼古拉斯•博纳迪是Ÿnsect的董事会成员。他说:“投资者越来越重视地球环境问题。我相信这只是开始。”

博纳迪表示,他预测公司在高度开放的美国市场会迎来大幅增长。随着农业企业开始重视昆虫饲养,未来Ÿnsect肯定会有大量竞争对手,但先行一步的Ÿnsect有着明显的优势。博纳迪说:“学习曲线很长。你要饲养的是无人知晓的物种。”而且,他说随着Ÿnsect日益重视可持续发展,它的吸引力会与日俱增。他表示:“投资者希望把资金投向对地球有益的项目当中。”

数据显示,饲养昆虫这个行业对地球的好处是无可争议的。

目前,人类还可以养活自己。但随着人口的增长,农业需要迅速做出彻底的改变,尤其是在农作物被洪水和野火毁灭的频率越来越高的时候。联合国粮食及农业组织的预测不容乐观。该机构称:“如果饲养牲畜的所有作物40%被人类直接食用,到2050年,地球上的耕地才足以养活90亿人。在气候变化的背景下,这一点至关重要。”

随着可用耕地不断减少,很快除了在室内大规模饲养昆虫以外,恐怕没有更好的办法喂饱全世界的牲畜。这个行业的潜力值得电影明星们深入挖掘。(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

With the pandemic changing age-old consumer habits, there might be one more taboo headed for extinction: Edible insects. After decades of squeamishness, we might finally be ready to allow creepy-crawlies into our food supply chain.

Bugs, it seems, are having a moment. Last week (just a day before a fly gained global fame during the Vice-Presidential debate) the French insect-farming startup Ÿnsect announced it had raised $372 million, hugely ramping up the niche industry, and accelerating the company’s plans for large-scale production in the U.S. The investments even had a touch of Hollywood stardom: Robert Downey Jr.’s eco-focused FootPrint Coalitioninvested $224 million in debt and equity into the startup.

“I dig it,” Downey said on the fund’s site, announcing his investment in the company with the inevitable insect pun. “Ÿnsect’s process produces no waste and complies with the U.N.’s sustainability goals.”

Indeed, the dire squeeze on the world’s land and oceans makes a strong case for farming insects. About 26% of the Earth’s arable land is used to graze animals, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, and at least one-third of all the crops grown are devoted to manufacturing animal feed, a $500-billion-a year industry, which relies on staples like soybeans and corn, which are far lower in protein than simple insects, and far more expensive to grow. The oceans fare no better: About 22 million tons of fish caught in the wild in 2018 were ground up for fish meal, rather than served to humans, according to FAO statistics.

Even so, it has taken years for Ÿnsect to win over the industry. “Three years ago, we were more pushing and advocating our technology,” says CEO and cofounder Antoine Hubert, who launched the company in 2011. The shift appeared to begin with the pandemic, as the world languished through months of lockdown, sending global supply chains into disarray. “In the past few months, more companies are coming to us,” Hubert says. “Agricultural companies want to aggregate their waste.”

High in protein

The contrast with Big Ag could hardly be starker. Ÿnsect breeds the larvae of the Tenebrio Molitor beetle inside a vertical factory, which Hubert opened in 2016, in a modest-sized industrial building in Dole, a town in eastern France near the Swiss border. When Fortune visited the factory in 2018, we watched conveyor belts with trays containing millions of squirming mealworms, all fed with agricultural waste collected from the area's farms. From that, Ÿnsect produces high-protein pet food and livestock feed—all without using a single acre of land or hauling fish from the ocean. Ÿnsect believes it will take time for we humans (at least in Western countries) to feel comfortable eating insects themselves. But until we do, bugs are likely to become a growing, key part of the meat, chicken and fish we eat.

Hubert says Ÿnsect has signed about $105 million worth of contracts with feed and fertilizer companies. He claims the company has raised a total of about $425 million in investments, more than the funding of all his insect-farming startup competitors combined, including Canada's Enterra. But big money is flowing in from established players as well. In January, NYSE-listed Darling Ingredients acquired a 100% stake in the Ohio-based EnviroFlight. They're all eyeing a big market for high-protein insect-based feed—and, eventually, food-—products.

For this latest round, Ÿnsect’s lead investor was Asatnor Ventures in Belgium. There have also been investments from French banks, the deeptech fund Supernova in France, the Armat Group in Luxembourg, plus Hong Kong’s Happiness Capital.

For Hubert, an agricultural scientist, the success has been a long time coming. He spent years researching insects as a source of protein. Back in the late 2000s, he began showing school children how to raise worm farms in boxes, by feeding them organic waste like banana peels. Realizing he could do the same on a large scale, he found a farmer who was breeding insects for fish bait, and recruited him to help launch Ÿnsect.

Hubert is now building a far bigger factory, which is set to open a year from now in French President Emmanuel Macron’s hometown of Amiens. The company is also scouting for a location to open a U.S. plant, perhaps as soon as 2022. Hubert says it is likely to be a joint venture with a Big Ag company, several of which are already in private discussions with Ÿnsect. “It will be easier for us to rely on them for permitting, subcontracting for building, and so on,” Hubert says.

Hubert says he plans to start selling insect-based pet food in the U.S. before next summer, after completing trials with the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In fact, insect-farming faces complicated regulatory hurdles in both the European Union and the U.S. In Europe, farmed insects fall under the same regulations as other farm animals, and it has taken Hubert years to be cleared for selling his fish-meal products. Next will come poultry and livestock, and finally humans; he expects to have E.U. clearance for human consumption some time next year. In the U.S. too, he has spent nearly two years working to get permission to sell pet food, which he believes is close.

“Just the beginning”

That is just the start. As shareholders press agricultural companies to cut their carbon emissions, several have begun considering how to recycle the mammoth amounts of byproducts and waste generated by large-scale production. “There is a lot more consciousness among investors about Earth issues,” says food entrepreneur Nicolas Bernadi in San Francisco, who sits on Ÿnsect’s board. “I am convinced this is just the beginning,”

Bernadi says he foresees huge growth in the U.S., where the market is wide open. As the agricultural industry begins focusing on insects, there will likely be plenty of competitors, but Ÿnsect’s head start gives it a marked advantage. “The learning curve is long,” Bernadi says. “You are talking about farming species that no one really knows.” What is more, he says, Ÿnsect’s appeal could grow as companies focus more on sustainability. “Investors will want to put their money where there is a good effect on the planet,” he says.

That good effect seems indisputable, according to the data.

Right now, the world is able to feed itself. But to keep pace with population growth, agriculture will need to shift drastically, and quickly, especially as floods and wildfires are destroying crops with greater frequency. The FAO's prediction is grim. “There is enough cropland to feed 9 billion in 2050 if the 40% of all crops produced today for feeding animals were used directly for human consumption,” it says. "This is crucial in the context of climate change.”

With available land squeezed, there might soon be no better way to feed all the world’s farm animals, than farming insects in huge quantities--all indoors. That is something movie stars can dig.

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