Overcoming food shortages with insect-based animal feeds

Overcoming food shortages with insect-based animal feeds

According to the UN, the world’s population will hit an unprecedented level of 9.7 billion by 2050, causing a strain on global resources and food production.


Tue, 01 Aug 2017


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During this time, food demand is anticipated to increase between 59%-98%, affected by climate change and rising meat consumption levels within the developing world. Offering an innovative solution to manage global food shortages and enhance sustainable agricultural practice is through the development of insect-based protein animal feed.

According to some analysts, the global market for insect-based animal feed is anticipated to experience a three-figure percentage growth over the next five years, providing potential opportunity for new entrants in this area.

Innovative start-ups leading in this area are ‘Protix’ (Netherlands) and ‘NextProtein’ (France-Tunisia), who have both received significant investments this year to expand operational activities in producing insect-based protein animal feed and fertilisers.  

Closer to home, ‘Multibox Ltd.,’ (England) is looking to emerge as the first UK producer within this market, and currently seeking investment.

Insect-based Protein – The next ‘bug’ thing?

This month (June), the Dutch-based company ‘Protix’, has secured a landmark €45 million investment from several key investors, to intensify its production of insect-based animal feed.

Protix provide a sustainable alternative source of animal feed, currently supplying to aquaculture, livestock and pet feed categories within twelve countries. By utilising insects, Protixs harvest requires low resource-intensiveness to rear and encapsulates a short timeframe for breeding, in comparison to non-insect animal feeds.

The French-Tunisian start-up, NextProtein has also secured investment of €1.3 million by several prominent investors this year, which will enable the company to intensify its’ processing operations centred on insect-based animal feed. NextProtein breed insects on a diet composed of recycled food waste which is sourced from food distributors and agricultural by-products. Insect larvae is then processed into fertiliser and animal feed for aquaculture, livestock and pets. Alongside curbing food waste, the process aims to minimise the environmental footprint of production, since every 100sqm of land used to produce insect-protein produces a quantity equivalent to that produced by 100ha of soy field.

In the UK, Multibox Ltd., (England) are currently seeking investment to scale-up their production to become the world’s lowest costing producer of insect animal seed and fertilisers, acting as first-movers within the UK within this market.

Overcoming ‘The Protein Problem’

On July 1st (2017), a change in the law generated by the European Commission will see the authorisation of insect-based processed animal proteins (PAPs) in aquaculture feed come into effect, having been approved in May. The regulative change comes respective of growing concern over food sustainability within Europe, where 70% of protein animal feed is currently imported, according to Proteinsect (2016). If climate change predictions are accurate, Europe may face a shortfall of conventional core ingredients used in animal feed, such as soybean.

According to the Harvard Business Review, corn and soy harvests within Mato Grosso (Brazil) are predicted to fall between 18%-23% by 2050 due to climate change, for example. The region is one of the world’s prominent sources of soy production. 

Although approval for its uses in aquaculture feed has been recognised, the future may see this extend into animal feed in meat categories in the UK. It seems probable to expect more innovations surrounding insect-based PAPs, as the need for alternative, sustainable solutions increases in the future of agriculture.

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