Singapore-based venture capital firm Sirius Venture Capital and Netherlands-based SLJ Investment have led a $600,000 seed funding round in Hargol FoodTech, an Israeli startup that pioneered sustainable grasshopper farming to yield consumable protein.
The investment deals sees Wong Hin Sun Eugene, Founder and Managing Director of Sirius VC, will join Hargol’s board.
Founded in 2014, Hargol is the world’s first food technologist to introduce an innovative system to breed grasshoppers in climate-controlled facilities at industrial scale. It employs vertical farming using its specialised innovative cage infrastructure, in which grasshoppers grow under highly sanitised conditions all year round.
As demand for protein is estimated to double by 2050, Hargol said it was well-positioned to cater to the growing alternative protein market.
“By investing in a venture that offers pioneering solutions to circumvent the foreseeable shortage in animal protein, we are advocating new dietary habits and at the same time, generating new market opportunities,” said Eugene Wong.
Hargol said it plans to use the latest funding to increase production capacity to solidify its position as a global provider of alternative protein.
“With Sirius’ investment at an early stage, along with the on-going support from its management, Hargol was able to realise its vision of becoming the world’s first commercial grasshopper farm in Northern Israel in a short period of time,” said Dror Tamir, CEO of Hargol. “Beyond its investment, Sirius extended to us with strategic consulting and access to its wide network of business partners, regulators and investors.”
This space may see increased investor interest as insect protein requires lesser processing, and is hence more economical to produce.
The likes of Hargol are also betting on the fact as insect protein, with its less distinctive smell and flavour, it is also more palatable than algae protein, and used in powder form in flour, protein bars and other snacks. Besides, when compared to livestock farming for protein, which accounts for nearly one-fifth of unnatural greenhouse gas emissions, startups like Hargol claim that their approach to producing alternative protein has seen high food conversion rates, very low water footprint, zero waste farming and minimal greenhouse gas emissions, and add that the process thereby poses little threat to the environment.
Sirius Venture Capital has invested in food and beverages companies in the areas of food production, supply chain and consumption.
It has expanded its portfolio to include food delivery businesses through its venture in Lalamove and food tech companies including Chapul, a US company that promotes edible insects as a sustainable source of protein.
It has also invested in AgFunder, a US-based platform for agriculture and food startups to seek investment capital from investors, to gain greater insights into food tech start-ups worldwide.