Thu, Apr 19, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Insect farms gear up to feed soaring
global protein demand

Snacking on bugs is not an appealing prospect for many people, so introducing insect protein further down the food chain could be a more palatable option

By Karl Plume  /  Reuters, LANGLEY, British Columbia

Ohio-based EnviroFlight, a black soldier fly larvae producer, is to break ground on the first commercial-scale insect meal production facility in the US near Cincinnati later this year.

Humans have been eating insects for centuries, but the practice is not common in many Western cultures and still spooks food regulators.

Black soldier fly larvae production has gained a handful of approvals in Europe, Canada and the US, mostly for use in fish farms. Poultry, swine and pet food regulations are not as far along.

“Since fish eat insects in the wild naturally, it is easier for consumers to wrap their heads around insects as part of the feed,” Anquetil said.

Thorough safety testing of insects as feed will be critical for consumer acceptance, said Thomas Gremillion, director at the Consumer Federation of America’s Food Policy Institute.

“If there was a big change in how animals are being fed, I’d want to see some extra scrutiny of whether the animals were accumulating any kinds of toxins from the insects,” he said.

It will take years for the insect farming sector to scale up, but growing the business to even a small market share would make a big difference to the feed industry and the environment, said insect farmer Robert Nathan Allen, who is also chairman of the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture.

“If we’re replacing five or 10 percent of the proteins that are normally in those feeds with insect protein,” Allen said, “That’s a lot of resources saved.”

Additional reporting by Ben Nelms

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