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COVER STOR ▶▶▶Y


A sustainability check for insect products


For the first time, a life cycle assessment has been done to see whether the use of insects for animal feed is more sustainable than using conventional protein sources such as soy and fish meal. All About Feed talked to one of the researchers about the outcomes.


BY EMMY KOELEMAN T


he interest in using more sustainable feed ingredi- ents is growing, fuelled by the environmental im- pact that soybean meal and fish meal have. This has spurred the research and production of more sus-


tainable feed ingredients such as insect meal. But what is the real difference between the old and the new protein sources for animal feed in terms of sustainability? A research team from the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland have there- fore carried out a so-called life cycle assessment (LCA) of food industry side streams transformation via Hermetia illucens (Black Soldier Fly, hereafter called BSF) into intermediate products applicable for feed and food purposes. One of the researchers that worked on the LCA is Dr Eric Schmitt from Protix, a leading insect producer, based in the Netherlands. “In general, insects are more efficient than other livestock be- cause they are cold blooded and many insect species can grow quickly. The BSF is particularly sustainable because it stops eating before it becomes an adult, so it is very efficient at storing nutrients, which is convenient for harvesting. They can also eat a very wide range of diets, can convert (food) waste streams and they grow very fast. This is the reason why the BSF is often the preferred choice of insect for companies to work with. But it is not only the (food) waste conversion that makes them interesting. Some studies showed that in- sects grown on certain grain diets also show positive results in terms of greenhouse gas emission for example, as shown in earlier work from Oonincx,” Dr Schmitt explains.


Insects can be fed with different types of materials, ranging from grains to clean byproducts from the food industry.


26 ▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 27, No. 3, 2019


Assessing the level of impact Most of the insect production schemes in Europe fall within a conceptual scheme, similar to animal production: feeding,


PHOTO: EMMY KOELEMAN


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