News / Science & Technology

Beetles, Housefly Larvae Show Great Potential for Animal Feed Sector

Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.
x
Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.
Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.
Reuters
French start-up company Ynsect has identified a cheap, nourishing and locally produced alternative to soybeans as a vital source of protein in animal feed. The clue is in its name.

Ynsect is not alone in looking to invertebrates to meet a jump in demand for meat and fish, and so for feed, in coming decades.

Black soldier flies, common housefly larvae, silkworms and yellow mealworms were named as among the most promising species for industrial feed output in a report last month by the FAO, the United Nations food agency.

“Given insects' natural role as food for a number of farmed livestock species, it is worth reconsidering their role as feed for specific poultry and fish species,” the Food and Agriculture Organization's report said.

Jean-Gabriel Levon, co-founder of Ynsect, said new protein sources were essential in a market where costs are set to climb.

“Insects are an interesting source which can be bred locally,” said Levon. “We are in the same situation as oil, with resources getting scarcer and more expensive.”

According to the FAO, protein such as meat meal, fishmeal and soymeal make up 60 to 70 percent of the price of feed.

Soybean prices have more than doubled over the past decade due to soaring demand and fishmeal prices have also jumped.

The two-year-old company has been developing an insect-based meal that could make up five to 30 percent of feed products, according to Levon.

Ynsect, which has around 10 rivals globally, is now raising funds to build the first European insect meal production unit by 2014-2015. One well-heated part of the plant would breed insects and the other would crush them into powder.

It aims to focus on using flies and beetles and Levon says a great advantage is that they can eat just about anything - for example human food leftovers such as potato peelings.

Once crushed, co-products such as shells can be used in the pharmaceutical sector, for cosmetics and wastewater treatments.

Great fertilizer

What is more, insect droppings make great fertilizer.

“Insects drink very little water. Their droppings are very dry. They're like sand and have all the qualities needed for a classic fertilizers,” Levon said.

Stephane Radet, who heads France's animal feed industry lobby [SNIA] said he was cautious, as the protein product would have to prove itself to feed makers and win public acceptance.

“For new material to enter the manufacturing chain, it has to meet four major criteria: safety, quality, competitiveness and acceptability in the food sector, processors and at the bottom of the chain, the consumer,” said Radet.

While another pioneering company, South Africa's AgriProtein Technologies, is rearing house flies and using insect flour for cattle feed, this is not allowed in the European Union where the “mad cow” disease crisis of the late 1990s has led to caution over the use of processed animal proteins [PAPs].

PAPs, particularly when cattle were given bovine protein, were blamed for the bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE] outbreak.

The European Commission has approved the use of PAPs to feed fish from June 1, which includes insect meal. It may allow their use in pig and poultry feed from 2014, lifting a ban on animal by-products imposed during the BSE outbreak.

The EU imports about 70 percent of its protein-rich material for animal feed. According to European Feed Manufacturer's Federation Fefac, Europe's market for processed animal feed is worth around 45 billion euros ($60 billion) a year.

Ynsect aims to start with fish feed, where insect-based meal could replace increasingly scarce fishmeal and fishoil.

According to the FAO, fish farming is the fastest-growing animal food producing sector and will need to expand sustainably to keep up with increasing demand.

Trials on certain fish species showed that diets where up to 50 percent of fishmeal was replaced with grass hopper meal produced equally good results as fishmeal only, the FAO added.

A further step one day might be to rear insects for direct human consumption. The FAO said insects already feed more than two billion humans in Africa, Asia and South America.

EU regulations do not allow this, however, and more research is needed on issues such as allergies. Only a few daring restaurants in Europe are experimenting for curious clients.

“As for targeting the human food market, that is for some other time. Eating insects is a laugh, people may be curious, but as far as we are concerned that won't be happening for the time being,” said Levon.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid