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Insect farming is on the rise. Recent news stories have touted insects as “a six-legged solution to world hunger” (Time), “the next sustainable food revolution” (The Independent), and “the future of food” (NY Times). Insect protein is increasingly promoted alongside plant-based and cultivated meat as a green alternative to conventional meat.

Investors have noticed. In just the last year, French insect farming startups Ynsect and InnovaFeed raised $372M and $165M respectively, more than the whole sector had raised in all prior years combined. The UK’s first industrial-scale insect farm recently secured backing from retailer Tesco, startup incubator Y Combinator, and even the British government. The industry is now building insect farms on a huge new scale. Most existing farms can only produce a few metric tonnes of insects annually, and the whole global industry produces 10K - 67K tonnes. But just two new mega-farms under construction could produce 80K tonnes annually, and Ynsect says it alone will soon be producing 230K tonnes of insects every year. Growth forecasts are even more ambitious. The industry expects to grow 10X - 300X bigger in the next decade: to 500K tonnes of insects by 2030 (Rabobank), 1M tonnes by 2027 (ADM), or even 3M tonnes in Europe by 2030 (industry survey). So is the coming of insect farming a solution to factory farming — or an extension of it?