Global seafood giant Thai Union Group is adding to its pet food portfolio by investing in insect-based pet treats start-up Orgafeed.

The group will invest through its Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) Fund.

Thailand-based Orgafeed produces sustainable pet food and pet treats based on insect protein under their brand Laika.

The company uses black soldier fly larvae, which are raised on a diet from pre-consumed food waste, supporting circular economy principles.

Orgafeed is part of the first batch of SPACE-F, Thailand’s first global food-tech startup incubator and accelerator, which was co-founded by Thai Union in 2019.

The investment in Orgafeed and further collaboration will support the future growth of Thai Union PetCare -- which has been renamed as i-Tail.

Thai Union’s pet product portfolio already includes brands such as Marvo, Bellota, Paramount, and Calico Bay and a number of private-labels under customer brand names.

Thai Union recently expanded its pet food operations in Japan by forming a subsidiary to distribute, sell and import pet food and pet-related products.

Thai Union’s CVC fund has identified alternative proteins, functional nutrition and biotechnology, in addition to new technologies along the food value chain, as strategic areas for investment.

Thai Union's rapid M&A expansion

The move is the latest in a string of investments for Thai Union.

In September the group has entered into a joint venture with packaging firm Starflex to create a new THB 250 million (€6.3 million/$7.4 million) company for the manufacturing and distribution of flexible packaging and other related business, including development of new packaging and products.

It also acquired 10 percent in R&B Food Supply, Thailand’s leading food ingredients company, specializing in flavors, colors and coating.

At the end of June the company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with domestic plant-based food company V Foods to develop and expand its plant-based food businesses.

The V Foods deal is not the first alternative-seafood investment the THB 132.4 billion (€3.5 billion/$ 4.2 billion) revenue group has signed. In April, Thai Union and Japan-based Mitsubishi signed a MoU with San Diego, California-based BlueNalu in a deal that will see the companies collaborate on market development of the company's cell-based seafood.

Thai Union posted an "all-time high" net profit in the second quarter of 2021, boosted by record operating profit from its core businesses and a turnaround of restaurant chain Red Lobster.

The company’s net profit climbed 37 percent compared with the same period a year ago, to reach THB 2,343 million (€59.6 million/$70 million). Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increased 31 percent to THB 3,101 million (€78.9 million/$92.7 million).

Revenue for the quarter increased 8.6 percent to THB 35,883 million (€912.4 million/$1.1 billion).

This was mainly driven by significant rebound of frozen and chilled seafood sales, which increased by 29 percent, and strong PetCare and value-added business sales, said the group.