Seafood producer Thai Union Group has partnered with Israeli FoodTech start-up company Flying Spark, in a move to promote larval insect protein as a highly sustainable and nutritious contender in the alternative protein market.
The agreement includes an investment by Thai Union into Flying Spark to enable the start-up to develop its insect growing and processing capabilities in Thailand, as well as cost reduction and process improvements.
According to the companies, the strategic partnership will combine Thai Union’s production capabilities and global reach – the Thailand-based company owns international brands such as John West, Chicken of the Sea and Parmentier – with Flying Spark’s innovative technology to create an affordable, sustainable and high-quality protein.
The start-up uses larvae from Ceratitis Capitata, producing 70% protein powder, that is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, dietary fibres, and is a good source of amino acids. Its white colour, mild taste and aroma enables easy incorporation of the protein into a variety of food and feed products.
Flying Spark’s technology enables easy and low-cost cultivation and processing, with nearly zero waste, as all parts of the larvae are used. It requires very little water and land, creates no methane emissions, and does not use hormones or antibiotics.
The start-up claims that these factors are the advantages of its production method over using other insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers.
Eran Gronich, CEO and founder of Flying Spark, said: “We are excited to collaborate with this leading multinational seafood company.
“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. This marks a significant step forward in bringing insect protein into the food industry mainstream.”
Thai Union recently announced the foundation of a venture fund, with an initial commitment of $30 million for investments in companies that are developing breakthrough technologies in food-tech with a focus on alternative protein, functional nutrition and value chain technology. Its collaboration with Flying Spark marks Thai Union’s first investment since the fund.
Flying Spark received its seed investment and is supported by Israeli FoodTech incubator The Kitchen Hub, part of the food producer Strauss Group.
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