Scientists now believe that insects could provide a sustainable alternative to soya in commercial animal feeds.
Concerns over the reliance on soya to form the protein content of compound animal feeds have long been documented (read more at Global Meat News), but with demand for soya only set to rise with increasing global demand for meat, there are concerns that soya supplies will become severely overstretched; pushing up feed prices to record levels in the future.
Europe has now reached the stage where 80% of protein requirements for animal feed are met by imports from non-EU nations; a unsustainable and potentially dangerous position for European nations to find themselves in.
As such sustainable, financially viable and domestically produced alternatives of protein for use in animal feed are being investigated and one of the most interesting plans receiving EU funding is that of industrial scale fly larvae production.
Animals naturally prefer to consume insect based feed and, with a higher protein content and digestibility rate compared to vegetable based protein sources, larvae could be a useful alternative to soya in animal feed.
Questions still arise over whether enough fly larvae can be produced in an economically viable manner to meet potential consumer demand and there are food security concerns that need to be answered but it is a fascinating idea and one that the UK coordinated PROteINSECT research project are seriously investigating.
For a more detailed overview of the subject and how fly larvae can be produced and incorporated into animal feed, please read my article that featured in the Western Daily Press newspaper last week (the headline is not my own…) or visit the PROteINSECT website.