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Tyson Foods to Introduce “Bug-Based” Protein Production in the United States

Recently, Tyson Foods announced a new partnership with Dutch company Protix, which specializes in producing insect-based protein ingredients.  Tyson will reportedly acquire a minority stake in the company through a direct equity investment with aspirations of bringing insect ingredient production to the United States.

“Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN), one of the world’s largest food companies, has reached an agreement for a two-fold investment with Protix, the leading global insect ingredients company. The strategic investment will support the growth of the emerging insect ingredient industry and expand the use of insect ingredient solutions to create more efficient sustainable proteins and lipids for use in the global food system. The agreement combines Tyson Foods’ global scale, experience and network with Protix’s technology and market leadership to meet current market demand and scale production of insect ingredients,”  according to an official statement from Tyson.

Tyson Foods seeks to utilize the joint venture to expand insect ingredient facilities both globally and in the United States.  According to the company’s official statement, Tyson Foods looks to incorporate insect protein into “pet food, aquaculture, and livestock industries.”

“Our partnership with Protix represents the latest strategic investment by Tyson Foods in groundbreaking solutions that drive added value to Tyson Foods’ business,” said John R. Tyson, chief financial officer of Tyson Foods. “The insect lifecycle provides the opportunity for full circularity within our value chain, strengthening our commitment to building a more sustainable food system for the future.”

According to the Protix website, which claims to be “the Leading Insect Company, “Protix is the world leader in insect ingredients. We believe that feeding the growing world population should go hand in hand with protecting our beautiful planet. A huge challenge! Fortunately, the solution lies in nature itself: insects provide low-footprint proteins and other nutrients that can be processed into more sustainable feed and food.”

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 “We are very excited to announce the next step in our international growth strategy. Tyson Foods’ and Protix’s strategic partnership advances our joint work towards creating high-quality, more sustainable protein using innovative technology and solutions,” according to the CEO of Protix, Kees Aarts. “Moreover, we can immediately use their existing byproducts as feedstock for our insects. This agreement is a major milestone for Protix and significantly accelerates our ambition to grow through international partnerships.”   

At this point, Tyson has not indicated plans to use insect protein as an ingredient in food marketed for human consumption.  As noted in the Tyson statement, the bug-based components are only set to be used in pet food, aquaculture, and other animal-related industries.

“When insects eat animal waste, they are essentially serving as ‘mini bioreactors,’ said Reza Ovissipour, assistant professor in sustainable food systems at Texas A&M University’s Department of Food Science and Technology. “And these mini bioreactors, they are very inexpensive,” he said. “You don’t need to apply that much energy. It’s very sustainable.”

Furthermore, Protix maintains that its products are meant to be “low-footprint ingredients” that serve as environmentally friendly alternatives to existing animal feed and foods.  The company claims they are a “highly nutritious” solution to environmental sustainability.

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