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Thai Union creates a venture fund with an initial commitment of USD 30 million

Thai Union creates venture fund to drive food-tech innovation and annunces first investment in alternative protein startup

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 20:00 (GMT + 9)

  • The venture fund will invest in alternative protein, functional nutrition and value chain technology
  • First investment announced into Flying Spark, who produces larval insect protein as a sustainable and nutritious alternative protein

BANGKOK – Thai Union Group PCL has announced the foundation of a venture fund as part of its continuous investment in innovation. Thai Union has initially committed USD 30 million for investments in innovative companies that are developing breakthrough technologies in food-tech.

The fund will focus on three strategic areas: alternative protein, functional nutrition and value chain technology. Thai Union will invest in entrepreneurial companies that are active in these areas and will actively partner with these companies to support and accelerate their development..

“Over the last years, Thai Union has made significant investments to become a leader in seafood innovation and sustainability,” said Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri. “As we move into the coming decade, we will increasingly cooperate with innovative start-ups in strategically interesting areas. This will complement our own activities as we are broadening our business beyond our traditional core.”

The announcement of its venture fund follows the recent opening of Space F, Thailand’s first food-tech incubator and accelerator, where Thai Union Group, together with Thailand’s National Innovation Agency and Mahidol University, is a founding member.

As a first investment, Thai Union has announced an investment into Flying Spark, an alternative protein start-up. Flying Spark uses fruit fly larvae that in nature feed on fresh fruits. The Israeli startup uses larvae from Certatitis capitata, commonly known as the Mediterranean fruit fly or medfly, a yellow and brown fruit pest that originates from sub-Saharan Africa. 

“We are excited to collaborate with this leading multinational seafood company,” said Eran Gronich, CEO and founder of Flying Spark. “Thai Union and Flying Spark see eye-to-eye on the need for future alternative protein products to offer high-value protein while minimizing the ecological footprint. This marks a significant step forward in bringing insect protein into the food industry mainstream.”

Founded in May 2015, Flying Spark produces high-quality protein powders from fruit fly larvae for human consumption.The larvae have a lifespan of just seven days, but multiplies its body mass 250 times in that period. Flying Spark’s tech, the company says, enables easy and low-cost cultivation and processing with nearly zero waste, as all parts of the larvae are used. According to the company, this gives it an edge over conventional protein sources from meat and plants as well as other insects like cricks and grasshoppers.

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