Israeli alternative protein startup Flying SpArk, which makes protein powder out of fruit fly larvae, announced on Tuesday a new investment and strategic partnership with Thai Union Group, a leading seafood producer based in Thailand.
The partnership, the companies said, will enable Flying SpArk to move ahead with its insect growing and processing capabilities in Thailand and dedicate efforts towards cost reduction and process improvements. It will also allow for the promotion of larval insect protein as a sustainable, nutritious contender in the alternative protein market, they said
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“The partnership will link Thai Union’s production capabilities and global reach with Flying SpArk’s innovative tech to create an affordable offering to fulfill a global need for cheap, sustainable protein,” Flying Spark said in a statement.
Thai Union Group’s investment in Flying SpArk, the financial details of which were not disclosed, is part of a new venture fund founded by the company for investments in innovative food tech companies. The fund, with an initial commitment of $30 million, is set to focus on three strategic areas: alternative protein, function nutrition, and value chain technology.
The investment in Flying SpArk was the fund’s first.
“We are excited to collaborate with this leading multinational seafood company,” said Eran Gronich, CEO and founder of Flying Spark. “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.”
Founded in May 2015, Flying SpArk produces high-quality protein powders from fruit fly larvae for human consumption. The Israeli startup uses larvae from Certatitis capitata, commonly known as the Mediterranean fruit fly or medfly, a yellow and brown fruit pest that originates from sub-Saharan Africa. The larvae have a lifespan of just seven days, but multiplies its body mass 250 times in that period. Flying SpArk’s tech, the company says, enables easy and low-cost cultivation and processing with nearly zero waste, as all parts of the larvae are used. According to the company, this gives it an edge over conventional protein sources from meat and plants as well as other insects like crickets and grasshoppers.