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Deals boost insect protein’s foothold in industry


September 4, 2019
By Liza Mayer

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Fish feed ingredients derived from insects have just got an ‘endorsement’ from two leading names in animal feeds. All photos: Cargill/InnovaFeed

Recent deals involving two of the world’s leading names in animal nutrition confirm insects have become a viable protein source for sustainable fish feed.

Cargill announced this past summer it has entered into a strategic partnership with InnovaFeed, a French biotech company that develops feed ingredients derived from insects.

“We recognize that the planet has finite resources,” said Pilar Cruz, president of Cargill’s compound feed business. “It is our job to find innovative feed options for our customers that protect the planet and support sustainable protein production.”

InnovaFeed extracts protein and oil from black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens). By feeding insect meal to animals, each 10,000-ton-production unit saves 25,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, says Clement Ray, CEO of InnovaFeed.

Global aquafeed company Skretting has meanwhile committed to purchasing volume order of insect meal from Protix, a Dutch company.

Skretting says its volume order represents 5.5 million servings of salmon brought to market per year.  “We are very proud to work with Protix to unlock this new protein source into the aquaculture feed industry to help bridge the future protein gap,” says Dr Jenna Bowyer, Skretting project procurement manager.

“We have seen players like Protix make quality improvements with every step and believe these products can make a real impact to future protein supply,” she added.

Protix opened its new 14,000-square-meter processing plant for insects this past summer. The facility is said to be the largest of its kind worldwide.

The two deals can be viewed as endorsement for insect protein. Just two years ago, none of the big players in the animal feed industry have attached their names to the manufacture of insect-derived protein. “The absence of big players in animal nutrition indicates the segment is still in a risky phase,” an industry observer noted at that time (See ANA Sept/Oct 2017).

InnovaFeed has led multiple trials demonstrating that its insect protein can be an effective alternative to fishmeal used in salmon or shrimp feed with equal or improved performance.

Bowyer of Skretting says it was essential for the company “that these new ingredients are not only safe and sustainable, but also ensure that the end product maintains the nutritional benefits we have come to expect from high-quality seafood.”

She says Skretting looks forward to working with more players in the insect-protein field. “The aquaculture industry is very large and growing, and it is essential for us to see novel ingredients brought to commercial scale.”