A new food industry trade body has been formed with the purpose of lobbying the European Union (EU) to promote insect products as a source of protein for both animal feed and for human consumption. The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPFF) is formed by insect producers who want their product available to EU farmers companies and consumers.
Current EU legislation on animal feed is not compatible with using insects and it is uncertain when this will be rectified. Producers want to use 100% vegetable-raised insect-meal as a protein source for aquaculture, poultry and pigs feed. Without clarity in the legislation, further investment and development of these processes will be forthcoming. Vice President of IPFF Tarique Arsiwalla said, “Insect derived products are being developed at industrial scale by companies which comply with stringent risk management procedures. They can now be used in nutritional and functional feed applications at competitive prices, whilst complying with EU highest standards in terms of food & feed safety.”
A study conducted by Ghent University published in the journal Animal Feed Science and Technology found increasing acceptance of the concept of animals as livestock feed among consumers, farmers and other agricultural stakeholders, with only 17% of the 415 interviewed rejecting the idea. The survey was carried in a livestock-heavy region of Flanders, Belgium, the agricultural stakeholders were most in favour, followed by consumers and then farmers.
Previously, the biggest barrier to integrating insects in to a western food system has been the “disgust factor”; a 2013 report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said tailored media communication strategies and educational programmes will be needed to overcome this. The next challenge for an insect based animal feed system will be to ensure the cost-effective, reliable production of an insect biomass of high and consistent quality as achieved in the rest of food production.
Image: Silk worm larvae for starters?
Image credit: Alpha / Flickr