Thai Union launches venture fund, invest in alternative protein
Thai Union Group has created a venture fund to push investment in food-tech innovation, the company said in a statement on 17 October.
The company has made an initial commitment of USD 30 million (EUR 27.2 million) for investments in innovative companies that are developing breakthrough technologies in food-tech.
The fund will focus on three strategic areas: Alternative proteins, 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, the company said.
"Over the last few years, Thai Union has made significant investments to become a leader in seafood innovation and sustainability,” Thiraphong Shansiri, Thai Union CEO, said. "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 the venture fund follows the recent opening of Space F, Thailand’s first food-tech incubator and accelerator of which Thai Union – 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 Israel-based Flying Spark. The alternative protein start-up uses fruit fly larvae that in nature feed on fresh fruit. The larvae have a lifespan of only seven days, but they 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, according to Thai Union.
Separately, the Thai company will join with 32 other partners from industry, research, and academia across 21 different countries in the Smart Protein project, which is led by the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University College Cork in Ireland, SeafoodSource reported earlier this month.
The Smart Protein has a total budget of EUR 9.6 million (USD 10.5 million), EUR 8.2 million (USD 9 million) of which is funded by the European Commission.