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Protenga, a developer of insect technology and animal foods, recently closed a US$2mn venture debt facility with a syndicate of Singapore-based investors
The investment will be directed to developing its next-generation production facilities in smart insect farms and the launch of YumGrubs, the company’s pet food brand. The expansion is also set to meet the rapidly increasing demand for insect-based ingredients for the pet food, aquaculture and animal feed markets and for high-quality organic fertilisers to improve soil quality and crop production in South East Asia.
The company will launch its 'Smart Insect Farms' in Malaysia, converting organic by-products into high-value protein and organic fertiliser.
The company is also executing its plans to make insect farming accessible and profitable as a basis for replication and regional expansion to become the largest insect company in the region.
Protenga also aims to produce the world’s most sustainable pet food from farm to fork through a vertically integrated supply chain. Fresh produce from the smart insect farms will be used in Protenga’s new pet food production to manufacture pet food under YumGrubs, the company’s own brand.
According to the company, farmed black soldier flies are a high-quality source of clean protein for making dog food that is hypoallergenic, good for the planet and well received by pets and livestock. As insect-based pet food continues to gain popularity globally, Protenga’s new production facility will also provide co-manufacturing for third-party and white-label brands to accelerate insect-based pet food’s growth and transition into the pet food mainstream.
With its previous US$2mn seed round in 2020, the company has built and launched three facilities, enabling Protenga to produce significant double-digit tonnage every month, while using less than one third the capital compared to the industry. Production has ramped up tenfold within 2021 to reach installed capacity, with continuous improvements leading to the best production months yet in the first quarter of 2022. Protenga’s proprietary data-driven production system (insectOS) produces more than 600,000 data points every day across its three production facilities, enabling consistent production, visibility and continuous improvement across the value chain.
Founder and CEO Leo Wein said, "The investment is a strong validation of the team’s hard work and our unique approach to making insect farming accessible and radically scaleable. We have demonstrated our technology to farm insects and we are ready to scale to have a global impact. Accessing debt financing starts our journey of bringing insect farming from being predominantly equity-financed to a broader set of financing options such as infrastructure financing or conventional bank loans and decouples the expansion of our physical production facilities from our equity-based growth investments in our technology and commercialisation platform. We have also been extremely pleased with the very positive customer and market feedback on our pet food offerings, providing validation of our team’s intensive R&D work over the last year."