Thai Union Group Invests in Alternative Protein Startup, Flying Spark
Flying Spark raised investment from Thai Union to increase insect protein production
Flying Spark Ltd., a FoodTech startup, and Thai Union Group PCL, one of the world’s largest seafood producers, headquartered in Thailand, are leveraging their expertise and capabilities to develop an important entry in the alternative protein market. Thai Union will also invest in Flying Spark, enabling the startup to move ahead with its insect growing and processing capabilities in Thailand and dedicate efforts towards cost reduction and process improvements.
The Flying Spark and Thai Union announcement includes both a strategic partnership and investment to promote larval insect protein as a highly sustainable, highly nutritious contender in the alternative protein market. This collaboration joins Thai Union’s production capabilities and global reach with Flying Spark’s innovative technology in creating an affordable protein offering to fulfill the worldwide growing need for cheap, sustainable, high-quality protein.
Thai Union recently announced the foundation of a venture fund with an initial commitment of US$ 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. As a first investment, Thai Union announced an investment into Flying Spark.
“We are excited to collaborate with this leading multinational seafood company,” expressed 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.”
Flying Spark uses larvae from Ceratitis Capitata, that in nature feed on fresh fruits. The larvae have a lifespan of only seven days yet multiply their body mass 250 times in that period. Flying Spark’s technology enables easy and low cost cultivation and processing, with nearly zero waste, as all parts of the larvae are used. This gives Flying Spark an edge over conventional protein sources — not only those from meat and plants but also over other insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers.
“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.”
About Flying Spark
Flying Spark is producing 70% protein powder that is extremely rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, dietary fibers, and is an excellent source of amino acids. Its white color and mild taste and aroma enables easy incorporation of the protein into a variety of food and feed products.
The protein production process is highly sustainable; Flying Sparks’ technology requires very little water and land, creates no methane emissions, and does not use hormones or antibiotics. The startup received its seed investment, and is supported by, the Israeli FoodTech incubator “The Kitchen Hub”, a part of the Strauss Group Ltd., the second largest food producer in Israel.
About Thai Union
Thai Union Group PCL is the world’s seafood leader bringing high quality, healthy, tasty and innovative seafood products to customers across the world for more than 40 years.
Today, Thai Union is regarded as the world’s largest producer of shelf-stable tuna products with annual sales exceeding THB 133.3 billion (US$ 4.1 billion) and a global workforce of over 47,000 people who are dedicated to pioneering sustainable, innovative seafood products.
The company’s global brand portfolio includes market-leading international brands such as Chicken of the Sea, John West, Petit Navire, Parmentier, Mareblu, King Oscar, and Rügen Fisch and Thai-leading brands SEALECT, Fisho, Qfresh, Monori, Bellotta and Marvo.
As a company committed to innovation and globally responsible behavior, Thai Union is proud to be a member of the United Nations Global Compact, and a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). In 2015, Thai Union introduced its SeaChange® sustainability strategy. Find out more at seachangesustainability.org. Thai Union’s on-going work on sustainability issues was recognized in 2018 and 2019 by being ranked number one in the world in the Food Products Industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, achieving a 100th percentile ranking for total sustainability score. Thai Union has now been named to the DJSI for six consecutive years. Thai Union was also named to the FTSE4Good Emerging Index for the third straight year in 2018.