Insects: sustainable protein sourceNine billion people are expected to live on our planet by 2050. To feed them all in a sustainable way, we need more than 250 million tonnes of additional protein a year – an increase of 50% compared to today’s level. In order to supply a growing global population with high-grade protein, new and innovative approaches are required today. One of the most promising sources to generate protein sustainably and with a low footprint is insects.
Insects such as fly larvae or mealworms are relatively easy to breed and rear. Some species such as the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly can even be fed with organic waste products such as farming or food waste. And they are remarkably efficient in transforming feed into protein: insects require only two kilograms of feed to product one kilogram of mass. Another benefit is their low space requirement: on a single square meter, insects are capable of producing one kilogram of protein. The yield could be further increased with vertical farming concepts. Besides that, excrements from the insects can be used as a fertilizer in farming.
Bühler – the leading solution provider for the food and feed industry – and Protix – the leading insect production company – have founded Bühler Insect Technology Solutions. This joint venture will provide scalable, industrial solutions for the rearing and processing of insects to customers and insect producers worldwide.
Did you know?
• Insects can transform 2 kilograms of feed into 1 kilogram of insect mass
• Producing proteins with insects is 4 to 5 times more efficient than producing them with poultry.
• Given 100kg of feed, insects produce enough protein to feed 430 people for a day.
• Given 100kg of feed, chickens produce enough protein to feed 88 people for a day.
• Given 100kg of feed, pigs produce enough protein to feed 37 people for a day.
• Given 100kg of feed, cows produce enough protein to feed 12 people for a day.
• Insects are excellent recyclers. They can extract up to 70% of proteins from organic waste.
• Insects can be produced almost anywhere, as they don’t need to be bred on fertile land.
Primary focus on feed
Whereas insects are consumed also by humans, for instance in Asia, it is as yet uncertain as to whether Western consumers will accept insect-based food products. Therefore, the focus for the time being is on processing them into feeds for animals. Because insect meal is similar to fishmeal as a source of protein, one promising application is in aquaculture to help relieve the pressure on natural fish populations. In addition to a high quality protein, insects also contain a fat which is similar to palm kernel oil and can be used for various purposes.