France’s Ynsect expands in U.S. pet food market with Jord buy

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French provider of edible insects for animal and human feed Ynsect said on Tuesday it had purchased U.S. mealworm producer Jord Producers, expanding its footprint in the booming U.S. pet food market.

Ynsect breeds mealworms that produce proteins for aquaculture, livestock, pet food and fertilisers.

The company made its first entry into the U.S. market in late 2021 through a supply deal to Pure Simple to make premium food for dogs.

The acquisition of Jord Producers, based in Nebraska, will allow it to enter the fast-growing backyard chicken feed sector, it said.

The number of Americans having chickens in their backyards has doubled since 2018. By 2026, the U.S. market is predicted to reach approximately $400 million, according to a recent study by consultancy Arthur D. Little, cited by Ynsect.

Pet food makers are increasingly using insects such as flies and mealworms as a sustainable source of protein, capitalising on rising pet ownership and booming demand from environmentally conscious consumers.

Farmed bugs require far less land, water and feed than livestock and they emit less greenhouse gasses.

French rival InnovaFeed signed a deal with U.S. grains merchant Archer-Daniels-Midland last month to supply insect protein to its pet food division.

Last year Ynsect agreed to take over Dutch firm Protifarm, a leader in insect ingredients for human food, marking a move into the food market amid rising demand for healthy, eco-friendly eating.

The company, which raised around $450 million from global investors, is building what it says will be the world’s largest vertical farm, which uses stacked layers, in Amiens, northern France, set to open in the last quarter of 2022.

It confirmed a target to reach revenue of at least 500 million euros ($549 million) by 2026 and said it aimed to have 15 factories worldwide by 2030.

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