Antoine Hubert, president and CEO of mealworm producer, Ÿnsect, spoke to FeedNavigator about the multiple opportunities that await insect producers arising from the recent opening up of the EU poultry and pig feed market to processed animal proteins (PAPs) such as insect meal.
He also reacted to a statement from FEFAC last month, when it commented on the amendment to EU regulation, with the EU feed industry representatives saying: “As far as insect PAP is concerned, EU production is still very limited in the EU and is used mostly in pet food and aquaculture. Its use in porcine and poultry feed will depend on its competitiveness.”
Hubert said that insect ingredient supply will increasingly grow to serve this new market over the coming years. “This expansion will also help companies to attract more funding from investors or public authorities that can see the overall market opportunity.”
And such a projected increase in financing would help insect producers accelerate production growth, and increase their share of the various targeted markets, he continued.
“In light of increased demand, supply is the industry’s main challenge, but the sector is growing bigger every day, and can, thus, still have a significant impact. To use Ÿnsect as an example, we will soon open our third vertical farm, which will eventually have an ingredient production capacity of 200,000 tons a year.”
The lifting of the EU feed ban is also a crucial step in ensuring greater consumer acceptance of insect products, said the Ÿnsect boss. “Every green light we receive represents a vital step towards people everywhere accepting insects in a variety of food and feed uses.”
In terms of the sector’s legitimacy to serve the pig and poultry feed market, Hubert said insects are part of the natural diet of wild pigs and poultry, with insects constituting up to 10% of a bird’s natural nutrition, and even up to 50% for some birds such as turkeys.
“This, as well as many insects’ excellent nutrient profiles, means that timely insect incorporation into their diets has been linked to increased health, performance, and efficiency,” said the CEO.
The benefits of insect consumption among piglets and chicks, which, at that life stage, require high-quality proteins in their diets, can clearly outweigh the cost of such protein inclusion, he added.
Along with expansion projects Ÿnsect has also been involved in other initiatives, recently starting an internal education program for new employees, Chrysalis.
“Over nine insightful days at Chrysalis, every new Ÿnsecter will learn all there is to know about large-scale insect ingredient production, as well as specific know-how related to their role,” he said.
The Chrysalis program is only available to new Ynsect employees since much of the training relates to the use of our intellectual property. “We are thinking though to open it more broadly, perhaps to external parties in a few years’ time, initially to partners where we are bound by an NDA.”