Insect start-up raises US$2.1 million to automate Thai farm and develop new cricket products
The funds will be divided between both businesses to automate its farm in Changmai, Thailand, and develop new products for its B2C sales primarily for the German market.
Last year, we published an article on The Cricket Lab farm which produces 3.5 tonnes of cricket flour each month.
This year, the farm hopes to fully automate watering and feeding, with the aim to lower labour by 50%.
Radek Husek, co-founder of SENS Foods and The Cricket Lab told FoodNavigator-Asia: “Our main goal is to make the cricket farming and processing more efficient,
“Our goal is not to increase capacity but work with the biology of crickets and production processes to make production cheaper. This means further specialising feed or improving the yield per square metre,” he said.
The company is planning to develop other products beyond cricket flour, including paste, oils and even a meat-like protein patty.
In Thailand, the farm also produces frozen crickets.
“We are listed in 130 Makro stores with our frozen crickets. This confirms the Thai peoples’ growing interest in insect proteins,” Husek explained.
Makro stores are generally not open to the general public, rather they serve convenience stores, schools, hospitality trade, and other businesses.
Husek told us he dreams of a more sustainable food cycle and hopes to start selling cricket protein to food producers primarily for the German market.
Asia’s insect interest
In Asia, Husek said there was growing interest in insect protein, especially in Thailand, Japan and Korea, with the former leading in both insect-based products and farming.
In Japan, the firm have begun discussion with distributors on selling its cricket flour, and possibly other food products from SENS Foods.
Husek said majority-Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are not as involved in the insect market as there are currently no halal certification for this industry, hence there are little interest and demand for such products.
The funding was provided by Presto Ventures, Reflex Capital, and UP21, based in Prague, Czech Republic.