EU insect meal manufacturers look beyond fish

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/Zerbor
© istock/Zerbor

Related tags Insect meal Insect protein Protein

European insect protein players are aiming to push for regulatory change to allow larvae meal to be used in EU pig and poultry production. 

Industry consortium, the International Platform for Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), which includes insect companies from the Netherlands, France, and Germany, held its general assembly yesterday. It outlined its priorities for this year and beyond.

One of its objectives is to support member companies as the new legislation related to the use of insect protein in fish feed​ comes into force on 1 July 2017; that regulation removes a technical loophole that had prevented the use of insect derived meal in fish farming.

“This is a huge development for insect protein producers and it gives us the means to secure investment and build bigger capacity so we can generate more volumes over the next two years,”​ commented Antoine Hubert, president of IPIFF, on that regulatory development late last year.

The group is now aiming to step up its lobbying efforts to ensure EU regulatory overhaul to allow insect meal be used in other non-ruminant species such as pigs and poultry. 

IPIFF advocating for the use of insect feed in monogastric production in the EU is somewhat consistent with the ongoing discussions around the authorization process for the use of pig and poultry processed animal proteins (PAPs) in feed for these species, said Hubert.

“Current EU work around the development of analytical methods on pigs and poultry PAPs is also very relevant for insects PAPs.  

“Insects PAPs could be an additional option in feed formulation for these species, provided that analytical methods allow for the detection of the adventitious presence of pig or poultry species in insect PAPs to comply with the intra species recycling prohibition.

“IPIFF members are happy to collaborate on this,” ​he told FeedNavigator.

The (TSE) Roadmap 2​ saw the Commission announce it would evaluate the reauthorization of the use of PAP from non-ruminants in non-ruminant feed. However, validated analytical techniques to determine the species origin of PAP are needed, in order to be able to ensure the intra-species recycling prohibition is respected. The EU Reference Laboratory for Animal Proteins is carrying out that work.

What can producers use to feed their insects?

EU insect producers said they also want to expand the range of agri-food chain sourced substrates they can use to rear insects on.

IPIFF has also called for more research into the use of former foodstuffs containing meat and fish along with catering waste as insect rearing feedstock in Europe.

Hubert said use of such former foodstuffs as material to feed insects would represent “a real economic opportunity”​ for industry stakeholders involved and it would also help address challenges around waste management in the EU.

However, he acknowledged there are data gaps around the risks linked to the use of such substrates and called for a full safety assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the rearing of insects on non-plant based material.  

“On this basis, we can decide whether it makes sense to ask for a revision of existing EU legislation in this field,”​ added Hubert.

European market potential

report published by the Dutch bank ABN Amro in January​ predicted that by 2020 the TSE legislation for poultry and pigs would be reformed, thus enabling the opening up of the monogastric feed markets to insect protein as well.

That report reckoned the European feed markets for aquaculture, poultry and pig hold great promise for insect meal producers:

“Imagine a small volume of the annual feed production is replaced by insect proteins. This will create the following potential sales volumes for insect proteins per year: 80,000 ton if 10% of the fishmeal in Europe is replaced (>Q2 2017); 70,000 ton if 1% of the total volume in broiler feed in the Netherlands is replaced (2020); 800 ton if 1% of the total volume of high-quality suckling pig feed in the Netherlands is replaced (2020).

“The conclusion is that, in the short run, the potential market for insect proteins in feed is much bigger than the current supply. Even against a low trading price for insect protein powder, within only a couple of years, the potential turnover will amount to hundreds of millions of euros.

“It is expected that volumes will increase and prices decline in the case of further upscaling, mechanization and automation. This will enhance the competitive edge of breeders and improve economic perspectives in the long run.”

Pig and poultry insect feeding trials

PROteINSECT, a platform set up to explore the potential of insect protein for feed and food, published a report last April​ showing its findings from trial undertaken in various markets into the use of  two species of fly larvae in the diets of chicken, pigs and fish.

In pig trials involving 48 male castrated piglets over a four week period at concentrations of 2% crude insect meal and 1.25% extracted insect proteins, the PROteINSECT researchers found no significant differences in body weight, daily gain, feed intake and FCR observed in the insect meal fed piglets when compared to piglets reared on a commercial diet.

Levels of good microorganisms (Lactobacilli​) were significantly higher in insect-fed piglets, they noted. No differences in levels of negative micro-organisms (Enterobacteriaceae and E.Coli​) were detected.

Insect meal and extracted insect proteins in the piglet feed created a healthy environment within the gastrointestinal tract of the animals, added the scientists.

PROteINSECT also conducted poultry feeding trials on 300 male Ross chickens over a 39-day period at concentrations of 2% crude insect meal and 1.25% extracted insect proteins with birds fed on a commercial diet used as a control. The results indicated that no significant differences could be observed in animal performance. 

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