Feed formulator, Nealia, developed a recipe for poultry rations replacing soybean oil with insect oil supplied by French insect protein company, InnovaFeed. The free-range chickens are raised on a farm in Champagne and processed by Les Eleveurs de la Champagne.
French supermarket giant, Auchan, which already offers trout that had been raised on a diet including insect protein from InnovaFeed, will be the first to market the chickens.
“This innovative project, adapted to current challenges, opens up very interesting prospects for the future,” said Camille Crepelle, technical coordinator, Nealia.
"With this new step, Auchan confirms its pioneering role and strengthens its commitment to virtuous and natural alternatives for animal feed within the framework of our ‘responsible value chains’,” said Anne Lécaille, manager of the poultry and butcher departments, Auchan.
Though InnovaFeed calls this insect project, combining several value chain partners, a world first, Netherlands-based pig and poultry feed manufacturer, Coppens Diervoeding, did report, back in 2016, that it was using Protix supplied insect oil in pig and poultry feeds.
“This is the first commercial value chain including insect oil, the first time that poultry fed with insect oil will be marketed as such in supermarkets to meet customer demand. This is the result of several years of R&D,” explained Clément Ray, founder and CEO of InnovaFeed.
Soybean oil is a standard ingredient in European poultry diets, included at about 1 to 2% as an energy source, he noted.
“Insect oil brings the same amount of energy and is rich in lauric acid which is known for its antimicrobial properties. Insect oil replaces 100% of vegetable oils in the diet. In this case, it replaced 100% of the soybean oil used. It represents 1% of the formulation,” continued Ray.
InnovaFeed’s insect oil contains 40% lauric acid.
Trials demonstrated a positive trend in FCR resulting from the replacement of soybean oil with insect oil as well as improved feces quality and poultry welfare due to lower stress levels, said Ray.
Sustainable food systems
InnovaFeed claims its insect oil has an 80% lower carbon footprint than soybean oil, with data to back that up arising out of work conducted by Quantis, comparing the LCA of the French insect producer’s oil with alternatives including soybean oil, confirmed the company's CEO.
Insect oil enables farmers to eliminate their dependence on imported vegetable oil while reducing the carbon footprint and use of arable land of animal husbandry, he maintains.
"The crisis we have just gone through has reminded everyone of the crucial role of agriculture in feeding us, while preserving the planet and its biodiversity. By replacing insects at the heart of the agri-food system, we are responding concretely to an increase in demand for healthy and natural food while contributing to the development of a more sustainable food system,” commented Ray in a release on the innovation.