Nova Scotia-based cricket farm set to become a leading provider of sustainable alternative protein for pet food products
Mississauga, Ontario – November 15, 2016. Dane Creek Capital Corp. (‘DCCC’ or the ‘Company’), a merchant banking venture that focuses on pet industry investments, is pleased to announce it has acquired a 48% interest in Midgard Insect Farm Inc. (‘Midgard’), a cricket producer headquartered in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Midgard crickets are a featured ingredient in the Company’s Dockside brand of planet friendly pet treats, meal mixers, and meal toppers for dogs and cats created using ingredients from rescued fresh food and sustainable sources. DCCC’s investment will also facilitate research and development aimed at growing Midgard’s business to become a leading wholesaler to pet industry companies looking to incorporate insect protein into their products.
Midgard is one of a growing number of companies raising insects as an alternative and sustainable source of protein for both human and animal consumption. Whereas cricket farms have traditionally focused on the sale of live crickets for pet specialty retail, Midgard’s model will focus exclusively on the production of whole ground cricket meal to satisfy growing demand for alternative proteins in the pet food industry. Over the course of the next 18 months, the Company expects the expansion of Midgard’s production capacity and ancillary operations will generate up to 15 new jobs for the local economy.
Midgard was founded and is currently operated by Joy Hillier, a registered veterinary technician and graduate of Dalhousie University’s Agricultural College whose interest in food security and sustainability led to her interest in edible insects. She also has professional experience in the food industry, animal husbandry, biosecurity technology, and laboratory procedure. Through her partnership with DCCC, Hillier joins the ranks of women entrepreneurs closing the gender gap on securing capital investment in North America. Studies indicate only 10% of venture capital has been allotted to female founded startups spanning back to 2010 of which those in science and technology are particularly challenged.
“We are very pleased to be making this announcement,” says Mark Warren, Chairman & CEO of DCCC. “We recognised early on it would be important for us to vertically integrate our sources of sustainable ingredients for the Dockside brand of pet products. Additionally, as sustainability becomes a leading concern among pet owners, we believe there will be opportunities to expand the business to provide cricket protein to the pet industry as a whole. We were very impressed with Joy and her unique blend of scientific curiosity and entrepreneurial savvy and are excited to be given this opportunity to help her grow her business.”
An immediate result of the partnership will be the establishment of a 1,500 square foot research facility for Midgard in association with Perennia, a non-profit corporation in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia dedicated to helping the province’s farmers, fishers, and food processors prosper. This second Midgard location will allow Hillier to work closely with Perennia’s team of food research scientists and nutritionists to produce top quality cricket meal with an initial focus on consistency, an issue which has challenged the industry. The collaboration marks an extension of the Company’s existing relationship with Perennia involving ongoing research and development into Dockside sustainable pet food products.
“I am very excited to welcome Dane Creek as an equity partner in my venture,” says Hillier. “Their support for my vision coupled with their pet industry and business management expertise will allow me to focus my time and energy on the developing science of cricket production and creating a high quality product for the pet food industry that will improve its sustainability as a whole. They will also be a valuable asset as we look to increase production and start hiring and training new personnel over the next year.”
Crickets as an alternative protein source offer both environmental and nutritional benefits. According to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, crickets are twice as efficient as chicken and six times more efficient than cattle at converting feed to protein. They also consume far less water, approximately 1/2000th the volume required to produce the same amount of beef, and require less space. Nutritionally, crickets provide an easily digestible protein and a complete source of all the essential amino acids dogs and cats require, including taurine. They also provide calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and prebiotic chitin, and contain higher levels of iron and magnesium than beef on a pound for pound basis.
Negotiations between DCCC and Midgard were facilitated by Perennia, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and Nova Scotia Business Inc., a private-sector business development agency. DCCC’s equity stake is held by Dockside Investco, its wholly owned holding company in Nova Scotia. Financial terms were not announced.
About Dane Creek Capital Corp.
With over 30 years of experience in the pet industry and an extensive network of industry professionals, we offer valuable financial and management support to up-and-coming companies in the companion animal sector through selective, strategic investments. Our investment horizon is long-term taking into account current trends and changes in pet owner demographics with a current focus on opportunities in pet food products sourced from sustainable ingredients, alternative models for veterinary care, biotechnology, pet insurance, pet hotels, and pet-related technological applications for pet owners.
For more information visit www.danecreekcap.com.