ASHDOD, ISRAEL —Thai Union Group PCL is taking a stake in the insect protein market. The seafood producer is partnering with and investing in Flying Spark Ltd., a food-tech start-up using larvae from the Mediterranean fruit fly to create high-value, sustainable protein.
The Mediterranean fruit fly, or Ceratitis Capitata, has a seven-day lifespan, during which its body mass multiplies by 250 times. Flying Spark cultivates the larvae using a low cost, waste-free processing technology. The result is 70% protein powder that is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, dietary fibers and amino acids. The product has a white color and mild taste for easy incorporation into a variety of food and feed products, Flying Spark said.
“Thai Union and Flying Spark see eye-to-eye on the need for future alternative protein products to offer high-value protein while minimizing the ecological footprint,” said Eran Gronich, chief executive officer and founder of Flying Spark. “This marks a significant step forward in bringing insect protein into the food industry mainstream.”
Thai Union’s investment will go toward cost reduction and process improvements. The start-up also will benefit from the company’s production capabilities and global reach.
The collaboration is the first investment from Thai Union’s newly announced venture fund. Along with alternative protein, the company is focused on investing in innovative functional nutrition and value chain technology start-ups.
“Over the last years, Thai Union has made significant investments to become a leader in seafood innovation and sustainability,” said Thiraphong Chansiri, chief executive officer at Thai Union. “As we move into the coming decade, we will increasingly cooperate with innovative start-ups in strategically interesting areas. This will complement our own activities as we are broadening our business beyond our traditional core.”