Increasingly, companies and scientists are viewing insects as an environmentally sustainable alternative source of protein. Crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles are already commercially produced and processed for human and animal consumption. Ynsect, a 10-year-old French company, is focused on mealworms, the larval stage of beetles.
One big advantage of mealworms, aside from their neutral taste and a high degree of digestibility, is that they don't fly or jump, which means it requires a lot less space to grow and process them compared with more mobile insects. One of Europe's best-funded insect-farming companies (it has raised over $400 million), Ynsect currently has one highly automated vertical farm in France and plans to open a far larger production facility in the country next year. The company is also scouting locations for a major facility in the U.S. and plans to announce a Midwest location before the end of the year. It eventually plans to have farms across the world.
Ynsect co-founder and CEO Antoine Hubert recently joined TIME for a video conversation on how the cultivation of insects can help mitigate the impacts of climate change and take pressure off threats to the earth's biodiversity.
"In the beginning, we worked with a small farmer who had 20 years experience in small-scale insect farming, and it was his opinion that it was the best. We also found that mealworms were super-good for great big vertical farms and able to deliver large volumes that are required for animal feed, pet food, or human food—thousands of tons, not a few kilos per day.
The inside of a vertical farm is an automated warehouse, very similar to an Amazon warehouse, where instead of storing stuff, we are storing live insects. There is a climate-control system that is highly complex to maintain temperature and moisture from zero to 30 meters high. All operations are automated. Anything that you do on [an insect] farm is done with robots.
Read the complete article at www.time.com.