Agronutris: 100 million euros to industrialize its insect-based protein production

Publié le : 2021/09/30

Toulouse (France), September 30, 2021

Agronutris, the first French biotechnology company specialized in rearing and transforming insects for food, is announcing that it has raised 100 million euros, including 50 million euros of equity, notably from the SPI Industrial Project Fund, managed on behalf of the French State by Bpifrance as part of the Investing in the Future program (Programme d’investissements d’avenir), and Mirova, the Natixis Investment Managers affiliate focused on sustainable investment. This operation will enable the company to deploy its first industrial unit in Rethel (Ardennes) by the end of 2022 and fund the creation of a second larger site.

At the cutting edge of a key sector for humanity, which is expected to see its development accelerate over the coming years, for this round of fundraising Agronutris brought together a number of committed and complementary stakeholders, effectively positioned to support the company over the long term on various levels:

• 50% equity, subscribed for by the SPI Industrial Project Fund, managed by Bpifrance, the lead
partner on this operation, as well as Mirova, Nutergia Group, Nord Est Partenaires and the
business angel Bertrand Jelensperger;
• 40% long-term debt with Caisse d’Epargne Grand-Est, Caisse d’Epargne Haut de France and
Caisse d’Epargne Midi-Pyrénées, CIC and Crédit Coopératif, as well as a major energy industry
• 10% subsidies provided by the French State as part of the France Relance stimulus plan (€8m)
and by the Grand-Est region.

Mehdi Berrada, co-founder and CEO of Agronutris: “I would like to thank all of our partners for their support with this major step forward in our development. They share our ambition to help shape a new world by inventing both innovative solutions faced with humanity’s major challenges and new forms of organization based around freedom, democracy and shared governance”.

Cédric Auriol, co-founder and General Manager of Agronutris: “This round of fundraising gives us the means to embark on a new stage in our development, but it also recognizes the progress made by our company over the last 10 years. It follows a very successful year for Agronutris during which we were notably the first company to be approved in Europe to sell insects for human food”.

Chloé Schiaffino, SPI Fund Investment Director: “We are proud to support the development of Agronutris, which aims to offer a sustainable and responsible response to the production of proteins, a major challenge of our time. With the objective of building two plants, this rational industrial project offers the potential for more than 200 jobs in France and is perfectly in line with the purpose of the SPI fund.”.

Marc Romano, Head of Impact Private Equity Funds at Mirova: “While Agronutris is clearly contributing towards protecting the environment, in this unique company we have also found a shared governance model that is very innovative from a social perspective and perfectly aligned with our ESG1 investment criteria. Taking into account this company’s progress and proven potential, its model has successfully shown that it works and Mirova is proud to help drive its future development”.

Claude Lagarde, Nutergia International Group Chairman, and Antoine Lagarde, Laboratoire Nutergia CEO: “The Nutergia Group, a pioneer for natural health and market leader for nutritional supplements sold in pharmacies, is setting out its commitment to tomorrow’s food alongside Agronutris. The quality of their research work, their sustainable vision and their mission to ensure healthy nutrition for the planet convinced us to become partners”.

Company at the forefront of its sector

Agronutris is one of the most advanced companies in the sector for rearing and transforming insects for protein, which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) considers to be one of the most promising solutions for the challenges surrounding food2. A pioneer in Europe, Agronutris has experienced R&D and agroindustry teams: this combination of talents has enabled the company to reach its industrial stage today. Agronutris is the only company in France to have reared three species on a
significant scale: cricket, mealworm (Tenebrio Molitor) and black soldier fly (Hermetia Illucens). It is also the only company to have been granted approval to sell insects for human food3. The industrial site’s initial production operations will focus on the rearing and transformation of the black soldier fly for the aquaculture and pet food markets.

Circular economy model at the heart of Europe

The Rethel site, in France’s Ardennes region, is positioned at a European crossroads, close to the Belgian and German borders. One of the key factors behind choosing this location is the presence of a number of different sources of inputs, with agroindustry subproducts and byproducts, which will be used to feed the insects reared in the plant. In addition to value-added flours and oils resulting from the company’s exclusive manufacturing process, the production waste materials are transformed into organic fertilizer, which will in turn be used to feed the region’s crops. This “return to the land” completes the loop for the circular economy cycle conceived by the teams from Agronutris.

Nine production sites by 2029

The first two sites will be able to convert 280,000 tons of agricultural agroindustry bio-waste each year and will make it possible to create 200 jobs in the Grand-Est region and at the research center in Occitanie.

By setting up nine production sites by 2029 with a combined annual conversion capacity of 1.5 million tons of bio-waste, Agronutris aims to establish itself as a world leader for sustainable nutrition

Empowering organization

Agronutris also has an innovative organizational model, with its human-centric way of operating and governance structure.
Each day, Agronutris is developing a groundbreaking organization with a view to being:
• a mission-driven organization based on freedom, trust and shared governance;
• a collective adventure mindful of others and its impact on its ecosystem.

This is notably reflected in a neuronal organization without a management committee, with a democratic decision-making process for the company’s key stakes, as well as the collective management of compensation packages, transparency on pay, and a sharing of value with an equal amount of free shares for all staff.