Dutch insect meal producer Protix raised €15.5 million ($18.6 million) in fresh capital, giving the group funds to expand its operations internationally.

Existing shareholders Aqua-Spark, Rabo Corporate Investments and the Brabrant Development Company (BOM) participated in the new round, and Dutch investment agency Invest-NL ploughed €7.5 million ($9 million) into the group as a new investor.

Rabo Corporate Investments became a shareholder in Protix in 2020, a few months after inaugurating its production facility in Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands.

The company launched the 14,000-square-meter insect production facility in June 2019 housing insects that convert up to 100,000 metric tons of vegetable residual flows into high-quality sustainable protein to serve the aquaculture markets. More than €40 million ($45 million) was invested into the insect factory.

In 2017, Protix received €45 million ($50.4 million) in funding from a joint contribution between Aqua-Spark, Rabobank, BOM and various private investors.

Feed companies such as Skretting, Nutreco and BioMar are already banking on the emergence of insects as an ingredient to stay in the aquaculture space, CEO Kees Aarts previously told IntraFish.

Skretting signed a deal with Protix in 2019 to produce as many as 5.5 million salmon servings from fish fed with insect meal.

Among the huge range of alternative feed ingredients cropping up to supply the aquaculture sector, insect meal is interesting from a production perspective is the productivity per cubic meter of asset.

For insects, the dry matter nutritional content is up to 30 percent compared to less than 10 percent for single-cell protein or algae.

The operational environment is also fast. Protix runs batches in the range of seven days, after which, it controls, cleans and harvests again.

"Whatever you build, you always measure it in terms of return on asset level, i.e what type of asset do you need to produce a certain nutritional output," Aarts said. "Insects, here, have a very strong criteria for success."