India’s first insect farming startup Loopworm secures $3.4m seed round led by Omnivore, WaterBridge
Loopworm is the first Indian technology startup to farm insects for animal feed.
Titan Capital and leading angel investors including Godrej Agrovet chairman, Nadir Godrej, former R&D and sustainability group head at Indian conglomerate ITC, Sanjiv Rangrass and Akshay Singhal founder and CEO of Log9 Materials also participated in the round.
The investment is Omnivore’s second investment under its OmniX Bio initiative, which backs early-stage agrifood life science startups.
The funding will be used for talent aquisition, research, and development acceleration, as well as setting up Loopworm’s first factory in North Bangalore to scale-up production.From waste to protein and micronutrient-rich animal feed
Loopworm grows insects on food waste and processes them into value-added products for the animal feed industry.
The company sources this food waste — which it likes to call “organic byproduct”– from food processors, retail food chains, and fruit markets. Through biochemistry and fermentation, it’s processed to make it suitable for insects, currently the black soldier fly, to breed. The insects are then processed into final feed for shrimp and poultry.
Loopworm’s concept was born when the co-founders Ankit Alok Bagaria and Abhi Gawri met at Enactus, a non-profit organization that promotes social entrepreneurship amongst university students. They both had ambitions to create a social entrepreneurship venture and solve India’s food waste problem, which according to Bagaria, was of utmost importance given the country’s soaring population.
The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that India wastes around 68.7 million tonnes of food per year. The country also produces around 141 million tonnes of crop residue waste, out of which 92 tonnes is simply burnt.
‘Our major concern was that we had a significant amount of food waste in India across the globe as well and there wasn’t much of a meaningful solution, where food waste is actually upcycled. There are solutions like composting, or biogas generation, which actually down cycles the product,” Bagaria tells AFN.
This led them to start projects in paper and plastic upcycling but then they came to another realisation; that food waste was considered a negative value resource.
“If you consider the other types of waste like plastic, paper, aluminium, glass, batteries, e-waste; all of these have markets in themselves. There is a reverse logistics mechanism in place and there are recyclers in place. But when it comes to food waste, people simply want to get it dumped. That was our starting point,” he says.
The two started working on Loopworm in 2019 and started their research with fish and poultry farmers.Production and market entry
Loopworm has so far been operating on government grants and funding from foundations. It has a pilot breeding and processing facility that churns out 50 kg of insects on a daily basis.
The produce is not for sale yet as Loopworm is doing feed efficacy and formulation testing of its product for different animals in different life stages.