The consortium, which Protix announced at the VIV Europe 2022 trade show in the Netherlands this week, involves that insect ingredient producer, along with feed manufacturer, ForFarmers, PHW Group’s Dutch poultry processing entity, Esbro, Dutch insect producer organization, Venik, and Wageningen Livestock Research (WUR).
The partners will investigate how Black soldier fly (BSF) derived ingredients in feed will impact the sustainability, health and welfare parameters of slow-growing broiler chickens.
While the EU Commission approved the use of insect meal in poultry and pig feed in September 2021, further information is still needed on the benefits of such ingredients for birds and how the use of such components can impact the sustainability of the entire poultry value chain, said the partners.
Leon Luyben, business development manager, Protix, speaking to this publication during the Utrecht-based event, said collaboration across the entire poultry industry can help eliminate the friction points that typically exist in supply chains. “The livestock industry is quite traditional, with chain partners usually just working with the next step in the chain.”
There is a recognition now that to achieve ambitious innovation and sustainably goals, the supply chain needs to adapt, it needs to do things differently, he continued.
Michel van Spankeren, another business development manager at Protix, echoing those comments, noted that sustainability is not just a challenge for one part of the chain. “Sustainability is a challenge for every business today. But if we don’t communicate all along the chain, if we don’t even sit together at the same table, it will be difficult for one supply chain partner to understand what a company two steps down in the chain needs. It is about having the bilateral conversations as to where improvements can be made, about how we can all move together in the right direction.”
Science based data
The consortium champions a science-based approach to the research, which involves three phases: A pilot study has just started. It is aimed at studying the effects of different inclusion levels of BSF larvae-derived ingredients in poultry feed. Based on the outcomes of that pilot, different broiler diets will be tested on a larger scale in chicken farms. In the third phase, BSF products in broiler diets in combination with other alternative regionally grown protein sources will be evaluated.
WUR will lead the research. ForFarmers will recruit the poultry farms to carry out those trials, focusing on operations that are open to innovation: “The knife needs to cut both ways,” said Luyben.
Production parameters that the team will assess include the growth performance of the animals, while the impact of BSF meal and lipids on meat quality and taste are some of the other criteria set to be evaluated as part of the trial work, taking account of the interests of the different parts of the poultry production chain, said the Protix representatives.
“Poultry processors are doing business with a lot of retailers, and they are under scrutiny by NGOs: they need to ensure the science is right so they can make claims based on insect ingredient inclusion in feed,” noted Luyben.
The consortium hopes to publish findings of their research at intervals over the next two years.
All partners will be involved in the development of the concept of the final poultry product and will also collaborate on how to ensure effective communication around the sustainability aspects of insect ingredient supplemented broiler feed, added van Spankeren.
Under a public-private partnership (PPP) in the Netherlands, all partners stump up an amount of funding, with the state also providing financial backing for the project.
The entities involved stressed how this PPP supports the Dutch national knowledge and innovation agenda and the national protein strategy as well as the EU Commission’s F2F strategy – promoting a circular agri-food system with the use of sustainable and local ingredients, with the aim of contributing to a reduction of EU livestock farming’s dependence on protein imports from deforestation hot spots.
Marcus Keitzer, board member of the PHW Group, said: “Continuous identification and science-based evaluation of innovative alternatives to conventional poultry feed ingredients are important elements of our sustainability strategy. Therefore, we aim to investigate the specific impact of the inclusion of insect-derived feed components in poultry diets in slow growing broiler chicken from various angles. This PPP enables us to do this jointly with some of the most renowned institutions in the insect and agricultural sector in Europe.”
“The growing global demand for animal protein calls for innovative and sustainable feed and farm solutions. Insect protein could have an important role as an alternative and sustainable protein source in animal feed,” remarked Joost Sparla, marketing director, poultry, ForFarmers.