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Innovafeed opens insect innovation center in Decatur, Ill.

| By Mary Bailey

Innovafeed (Paris, France), a global leader in the production of insect ingredients for high-quality animal feed, pet food and plant nutrition, inaugurated its North American Insect Innovation Center (NAIIC) in Decatur, Illinois on the 18th of April. This pilot plant is the first step of the rising French agtech’s industrial expansion to North America and aims to scale up production and commercialization of insect protein in the USA.

Innovafeed breeds Hermetia illucens, also known as black soldier flies, in state-of-the-art indoor farms, while efficiently repurposing agricultural by-products from its strategic partner, ADM, in a pioneering zero-waste framework. This innovative process yields insect meal, oil, and soil amendment, which Innovafeed markets under the brand Hilucia™.

The inauguration of NAIIC will be a milestone in Innovafeed’s expansion in North America. The choice of Decatur, Illinois, is not coincidental: located in the heart of the corn belt adjacent to ADM’s North American headquarters and the world’s largest corn mill operations, with hundreds of processing plants across multiple States, the region offers high potential for multiple sites to be deployed in the future. The broader area is also a historical innovation hub for the agro-industry, making it a strategic location for Innovafeed to serve its core markets. Since 2023, the company in partnership with ADM, already has commercialized Hilucia insect ingredients for the pet food market in North America. As part of this effort, ADM has invested in a comprehensive R&D study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with results to be released later this year demonstrating the nutritional and health benefits of its ingredients. Future opportunities with other types of animal feed are also being explored as part of the comprehensive partnership between the two companies.

A pipeline will connect the plant to the ADM’s corn processing wet mill, allowing it to directly recover up to 300,000 tons per year of by-products. These by-products will be transformed into high-quality insect ingredients producing up to 60,000 metric tons of animal feed protein derived from Hermetia Illucens. Additionally, it will generate 20,000 metric tons of oils for poultry and swine rations each year, along with 400,000 metric tons of soil amendment.  In Decatur, the planned large-scale manufacturing facility will replicate an industrial symbiosis model pioneered by Innovafeed in France. A comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is still to be conducted at the NAIIC.

Innovafeed is delighted to welcome the presence of Governor JB Pritzker at our inauguration, which underscores Illinois’s commitment to innovation, sustainability, and its pivotal role in driving both local and global economic impact within the United States.

Finally, the plant is proudly part of a local ecosystem of industrial projects in Decatur that are poised to create future-focused jobs and help solidify the region as a catalyst for local economic growth and innovation.

“As the project expands, we believe Innovafeed can benefit from a strongly qualified local workforce, as well as contribute to developing new skills specific to our innovative industry. Furthermore, we envision Decatur as a promising hub for innovation with many opportunities for collaboration between Innovafeed and the neighboring projects that have recently been announced in the area,” says Maye Walraven, US General Manager for Innovafeed.

Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe added, “The inauguration of Innovafeed’s first U.S. location is another huge win for Decatur and is a prime example of what innovation and growth looks like in central Illinois. The northeast quadrant of Decatur will look very different in the coming years, and we are excited to see the future of Innovafeed and other synergistic partners in the area.”

Founded in 2016, Innovafeed currently operates two industrial plants in northern France, producing insect protein for animal and pet nutrition. To date, Innovafeed has secured more than $1 billion in commercial contracts for its fly protein products for the aquaculture, pet food and poultry feed markets and has introduced insect ingredients as a viable, affordable, and sustainable source of animal and pet food, which is now recognized and embraced by both agribusiness leaders and environmental stewards alike. By integrating sustainable and innovative solutions, Innovafeed aims to play a pivotal role in mitigating the environmental impact of the animal and pet agribusiness sector.

Innovafeed is also proud to announce that it is now a Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) accredited company in the pet segment, effective from February 2024. Additionally, the company has been honored with the Most Innovative Company 2024 award by the prestigious Fast Company Prize. These milestones once again underscore Innovafeed’s international expansion and its commitment to sustainability and innovation.