Food

Tyson Foods partners with insect protein startup to develop ingredient facility

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Dive Brief:

  • Tyson Foods announced a strategic investment with insect protein startup Protix to boost the presence of insect ingredients utilized in the food system, the company said in a statement. Tyson said it will acquire a minority stake in the company, but financial terms were not disclosed.
  • The meat giant said it plans to construct an ingredient facility in the U.S. with Protix that will “upcycle food manufacturing byproducts into high-quality insect proteins and lipids,” for use in pet food, aquaculture, and livestock production.
  • The agreement aims to combine Tyson’s ability to widely scale products with Protix’s insect protein technology to meet the growing demand for the ingredients.

Dive Insight:

Insect protein has grown in prominence in recent years with companies debuting cricket-based snacks and powders. Because producing the still niche protein uses less water and land than livestock, advocates have pitched it as a sustainable alternative to traditional meat like beef and pork. Cricket ingredient brand Exo said crickets are 20 times more efficient to grow than cattle.

“The insect lifecycle provides the opportunity for full circularity within our value chain, strengthening our commitment to building a more sustainable food system for the future,” said John R. Tyson, the meat giant’s CFO, in a statement.

The global insect protein market is expected to increase by a compound annual growth rate of 27.4% by 2028, according to a Grand View Research projection.

Kees Aarts, the CEO of Netherlands-based Protix, said the agreement will add to the insect protein maker’s supply chain by using Tyson’s meat production byproducts as feed for its insects.

Tyson’s pursuit of the space is centered on ingredients for food production, aimed to feed animals in the supply chain, rather than insect-based products for human consumption. Other livestock producers have embraced the space, including Cargill which partnered with Innovafeed in 2022 to develop sustainable insect-based fertilizer and animal feed.

Other major players in the CPG industry have signaled an interest in the insect space, including for human consumption. PepsiCo said it was pursuing research into insect-based snacks in 2017, citing its potential for future products.

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