Food Vision

Insect feedstock for pigs, chicken and fish production

House flies are already being used as a feedstock for aquaculture by a South African company

Protein from insects is expected to be approved by the EU for use as feed for pigs and chickens over the next six months, according to a leading expert and advisor on edible insects to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation.

If the costs of insect animal feedstock could be brought down by automated production techniques, it would become a serious alternative to products such as soy feed protein for chicken and pigs, said Professor Arnold van Huis, a tropical entomologist from Wageningen University. It could also be used as a replacement for fishmeal in aquaculture as fish stocks and fish feed becomes increasingly scarce and expensive.

Speaking at the Food Vision conference in Cannes earlier this week (Wednesday April 2), van Huis also noted that for technical reasons, insects provided a better feedstock for fish than plant-based protein alternatives.

Van Huis suggested that the use of insects as animal feed would prove more acceptable in the western world in the short term than as a protein for human consumption. But he argued for far greater consumption of insects in the human diet across the globe as obstacles – both cost and regulatory – were overcome.

Automated production techniques

He announced that the European Commission was just about to approve the use of insects for feeding to pigs and chickens across the EU. And he added that emerging automated production techniques would bring down costs significantly.

“DG Sanco is really thinking about it and we believe that very soon it will be allowed to be fed, not to ruminants, but to pigs and sheep,” said van Huis.

Unpublished studies also showed that at least 50% of fishmeal could be replaced by insect meal in aquaculture, he added. But he pointed out that other legislative barriers would need to be overcome before this could happen. “Insects are also animals, so we will need a slaughterhouse for insects,” he said.

Already several species of insects were being grown on waste around the world, said van Huis. “You can grow these insects on manure and end up with a high protein product,” he said. “Since June 1 last year it’s allowed to be used in aquaculture. That’s quite important because aquaculture is growing by about  9% a year.

Looking for alternatives

Van Huis added: “Half of all our fish is more or less cultured right now so they normally use fishmeal as feed, but because of over exploitation that is getting extremely scarce and expensive so they are really looking for alternatives.

“For pigs and poultry it is not allowed yet in the EU but we expect probably within half a year that this will be allowed also.”

One of the insect varieties that could be used for aquaculture is a house fly, which is already being produced on a large scale by a South African company in a product known as MagMeal, said van Huis. “The advantage is it grows in just three days,” he said. “But if you really want to promote it, we have to farm it.”

The main obstacle to its more widespread use as a feedstock at the moment is the cost. Because production is very labour intensive, the cost works out at about euro 4.75/kg (£3.92/kg), said van Huis. “So this has to be mechanised.”

The price would need to be reduced to about euro 1/kg (£0.83/kg) to be competitive, he said. “A number of companies in Europe have already sorted out how to automate the whole system, so I think it can be competitive.” One idea could be to grow the insects on food waste, he added. 

Related News

New food products and packaging will be designed to trigger multi-sensory experiences based on sound and vision, according to a Food Vision speaker

Foods to unlock multi-sensory experiences coming soon

Innovation for today: Digital tech empowers industry to innovate

Innovation for today: Digital tech empowers industry to innovate

Gorgeous grub: We need to make insect consumption 'sexy' to consumers

Gorgeous grub: We need to make insect consumption 'sexy' to consumers

The CFP ban on discarding unwanted or unfit fish could have unintended consequences on wildlife and fish stocks, say researchers.

Unintended consequences: Research reveals concerns over EU ban on discarding fish

Fancy biting a bug? Nearly half of Britons said yes, provided they were given information about the product - but no pictures

Insects could be superfood – but don’t picture them

Insects are the next big protein growth area, say experts

Insect proteins will take off – experts

Ento Foods has developed colourful, bite-sized insect snacks

Insect canapés will be the next foodie trend

Bingham and Jones are looking for solutions to future food problems now

Bingham and Jones to launch insect ready meals

Safety of insects considered by new report

First EU edible insect food safety guide published

Judy Buttriss, director general, British Nutrition Foundation

Insects as animal feed

Insects that feed on stored products can cause damage to raw materials

'Insect infestations are a major problem for food companies'

Stomach bugs

Stomach bugs

Thai fried giant crickets

‘Edible insects anyone?’ asks FSA

Comments (3)

Rozalin Kostov - 13 May 2014 | 07:06

Insect feedstock for pigs,chicken and fish production

That's the working formula-a compilation of the evolutionary food chain order and the traditionally established utilization of the potential of insects as a component of the feedstock for those & other animals.All it needs is a full support & a lot of work.

13-May-2014 at 19:06 GMT

Hairy mason - 08 Apr 2014 | 05:51

And the rest?

Aren't we (again) entangling our supply chains without knowing and understanding completly the consequences? Haven't we learned anything on the Mad Cow "thing"?

08-Apr-2014 at 17:51 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.