“Bring back the loss of the sense of agriculture, and return to the common sense of the farmer. » Here is how Sébastien Crépieux, 45, explained the choice of name for his company Invers, which on Friday November 18 won the grand prize of the fourth edition of the competition “Innovate the countryside: I am doing where I want to live ” (by Bayard’s partner). A company specializing in the sale of animal feeds, Invers’ goal is not so much to limit the meat consumption of our precious pets, but to create a real breeding feeding industry from “mealworms”.
Create a local and circular sector
In 2016, while he was quietly reading an article on his terrace facing the Puy-de-Dôme about industrial overfishing, this agricultural engineer, born in Auvergne, had the idea to develop his breeding worms intended for animal feed. “Today, a third of the world’s fisheries are devoted to feeding farmed fish, which is a waste of the environment. As the regulations change, I want to create an insect industry that will work locally, on a short circuit”says Sébastien Crépieux.
In 2018, after selling the first company specializing in urban greening, he launched Invers, with two partners. Initially, Invers, working with farmers (responsible for producing insects from the microlarvae supplied by Invers) and local industrialists, focused mainly on the pet food segment. Croquettes for cats and dogs, mealworms for hens, turtles or rodents… almost all turnover is still made today in this consumer market.
Animals in the viewfinder
But in the long term the goal is to really attack the farm animal market: in 2025, the company hopes to replace 100% of the standard proteins (fish and soya) imported in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes with worm proteins. of flour produced in the region. Invers, which now has 25 employees, has just invested in a second hatchery (a room where the eggs are incubated) that should provide the opportunity to supply microlarvae to 25 agricultural buildings.
Finding farmers to produce insects is not always easy. In 2017, the businessman came to present his company to farmers in the region, the reactions were cold to say the least, not to say violent. “It is considered as something eco-stupid, with no future”, he summed up. Except that Sébastien Crépieux also has some financial arguments to put forward, including the profitability of areas used to cultivate insects. “Producing one kilogram of insect protein requires 100 times less agricultural land than producing one kilogram of conventional protein”he says.
Profitable production, and high prices
The day after his intervention, one of the farmers present, a cereal farmer and breeder, called him back to ask him to meet his son, who did not want to occupy the insufficiently profitable family farm. The thirty-year-old was one of the first farmers to start breeding insects, in addition to his wheat production. “Thanks to this diversity, the farmers who join us can earn a decent living from their work”assured Sébastien Crépieux.
In terms of price, the company, which sells its products on the Internet or in specialized supermarkets, ensures that it is positioned at the same level as the rest of the “high-end” segment. Count €12.90 for a 1.5 kg package of insect-based kibble, and €28.90 for a 4 kg bag of kibble for medium-sized dogs. “Except that in addition to being completely made in France, our foods have a better nutritional intake and are fully traceable”the entrepreneur smiled.
The latter, however, refused to discuss the possible effect of his croquettes on reducing meat consumption. “Most animal protein kibbles are made from carcasses. It is therefore misleading to say that the production of insects emits less CO2. If we emit less, it is mainly because we are more circular”, he concluded. Translating here again a certain farmer’s common sense…