Lithuanian firm gets seed funding to develop mealworm protein insect ingredients for food industry

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Divaks raised €3 million in seed funding to create yellow mealworm ingredients for meat alternative, sports nutrition, snack, confectionery, and pet nutrition products.

Lithuanian food-tech company Divaks has raised €3 million in seed funding to create yellow mealworm ingredients for meat alternatives, sports nutrition, snacks, confectioneries, and pet food. Insect-derived ingredients are posed as an environmentally friendlier source of protein compared to livestock farming, requiring less land and water and generating lower greenhouse gas emissions. Divaks is doubling down on sustainability by using for feed the low-value side streams obtained from local food producers, the company says.

The yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) is a complete protein source containing all essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, the company says. The company will use the new funding to ramp up pilot manufacturing, with the goal of opening a fully automated, vertically integrated insect rearing and processing facility by mid-2024, which the firm says would be one of the largest in the Baltic States.

“Following Divaks’ foundation in 2020, it has worked closely with Lithuanian universities and academic institutions to develop its ingredients and has already conducted initial rearing and breeding trials,” the company’s press release states. “Having now completed a second round of seed funding, the company is finalizing the launch of its own pilot manufacturing facility. This will allow it to provide assumptions verification on a larger scale plus first samples preparation for potential clients.”

The company plans to continue its R&D with academic institutions to develop more efficient rearing and breeding conditions for the mealworms, as well as for processing.

The firm adds: “In addition, the funds will be used to secure Novel Food authorization with the European Commission. The company recently signed a Novel Food Dossier (NFD) licensing agreement with insect industry pioneers Protix that covers whole dried mealworms and whole mealworm powder. As a next step, Divaks has begun preparing additional NFDs for a range of specialist ingredients including defatted insect protein and soluble insect protein concentrate.”