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Vinh Hoan strikes insect protein deal with Entobel
Responsible fish production aims to build a more sustainable aquaculture ecosystem
Sao Da Jr 23 Feb 2024

Vietnamese firm Vinh Hoan, the world’s largest supplier of pangasius fish, will buy a minimum of 15,000 tonnes of insect protein from Singapore-based Entobel in the next three years, from 2025 to 2027, as part of the two companies’ newly expanded strategic partnership.

The insect protein supply, produced at Entobel’s factory in Vung Tau City, just more than two hours’ drive from Ho Chi Minh City, will be used as feed for Vinh Hoan’s fish farms.

The expanded partnership aims to build a more sustainable and resilient aquaculture supply chain. It includes an offtake agreement by Vinh Hoan subsidiary Feed One to buy in 2024 “a substantial volume of insect protein” made at the facility.

“We recognize that a crucial element in feeding the world’s growing population while protecting the ocean’s ecosystem and biodiversity is to ensure that aquaculture feed ingredients come from sustainable sources,” says Vinh Hoan chief executive officer Nguyen Ngo Vi Tam.

“Accelerating the adoption of Entobel’s insect protein in pangasius production will make it possible for us to source aquaculture feed ingredients in a more sustainable way, and use feed ingredients that are not in direct competition with human nutrition, facilitating a more responsible aquaculture industry.”

Pangasius supplies mostly come from fish farms that observe strict production regulations. 

Strict production regulations

Pangasius, also known as shark catfish or basa fish, is native to freshwater systems in South and Southeast Asia. While previously shunned for containing contaminants from polluted rivers, today’s pangasius supplies mostly come from fish farms that follow strict production regulations, and are therefore safe to eat.

The use of insect protein as feed is part of Vinh Hoan’s responsible and sustainable aquaculture farming practices. Insect protein is derived from the larvae of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens), an insect species known for its bioconversion capacity and potential as a nutritious resource for aquaculture feed.

In November 2023 Entobel set an industry record with the successful commissioning and scale-up of its production site in Vung Tau as the largest insect protein production plant in Asia.

Entobel is targeting the launch of its Series C funding round in Q2 2024 to support its regional growth plans as it prepares to build new facilities in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Insect protein is derived from black soldier fly larvae. 

Expanded strategic partnership

With an aquaculture area of more than 750 hectares in southern Vietnam, Vinh Hoan exports its products to more than 45 countries. In 2021, as part of its sustainability roadmap to reduce its carbon footprint and protect the aquaculture ecosystem, the private firm signed a strategic partnership that included an equity investment in Entobel. Since 2021 Vinh Hoan and Entobel have been closely collaborating to reduce the use of wild-caught fishmeal in aquafeed diets.

Founded by Alex de Caters and his fellow Belgian entrepreneur Gaetan Crielaard in 2012, Entobel has spent a decade learning how to farm and process insects efficiently.

After the launch of its Series A funding round in 2018, the company built a production plant with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes per annum in Dong Nai province bordering Ho Chi Minh City and commissioned it in 2019.

In 2022 Entobel wrapped up its US$30 million series B funding round (US$25 million from Mekong Enterprise Fund IV and US$5 million from Dragon Capital), plus US$2.5 million from the World Bank’s investment arm IFC to fund larger-scale production. Its commercial-scale plant in Vung Tau is capable of producing 10,000 tonnes of protein meal per year.

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