Monday, September 11, 2017

11/09/2017: Insect protein: One solution for alleviating pressure on marine ecosystems

by Syrine Chaalala, nextProtein Chief Operating Officer

This month the European Commission officially authorised insect-based processed animal proteins (PAPs) as feed for aquaculture animals

The regulation text to came into effect on July 1, 2017, and promises to be a very important reform for the aquaculture and insect-based protein industries. Insects are a significant part of the diets of wild fish, however aquaculture fishmeal is largely based on catches of pelagic fish. 

Image credit: nextProtein
With the vast majority of farmed fish relying on fish meal and the depletion of our marine ecosystems, insect-based proteins offer the aquaculture industry a more sustainable way to ensure fish for human consumption.

Readers keeping up to date with the latest news from our industry will have noticed the rise in headlines about the potential for insect farming to change the future of animal feeds.

But why the urgent need to introduce insects into our farmed food chains?
By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach more than nine billion. To feed this larger population global food production will have to increase by 70 per cent on current capacity. Yet the world’s natural systems are already at breaking point – land and water scarcity are urgent constraints as is environmental degradation and waste.

Meanwhile one third of all food produced is wasted. Our current situation is staggering and a worry for future generations. But there are solutions for hope. There are countless innovators around the world who are aware of these issues and working on ways to feed the world’s population sustainably.

One such innovation is harnessing the natural qualities of Hermetia illucens, or more commonly, Black Soldier Fly. This species has been selected specially for its beneficial, high-yield quality. It’s quickly become an attractive insect to raise at industrial scales because they grow quickly and reproduce in high numbers.

Under optimal conditions, a single female fly can lay more than 500 eggs. Two to three weeks after hatching, these grow into the final larval stage, which is when the larvae are harvested. Fly larvae are raised, harvested and then processed into valuable components of animal feed: an insect based protein for aquaculture, livestock and pets, an extracted fat and an organic natural fertiliser for use in agriculture. 

Image credit: nextProtein
What we do
At nextProtein, we do exactly that. From our operations in Tunisia we rear Black Soldier Fly larvae for harvest and production, primarily for aquaculture feed and pet food. We’re working towards the goal of having this feedstock used in other sectors too, including feed for poultry and pork. If we can feed more farmed animals on insect protein that use significantly less resources to grow, and have close to no carbon footprint, we can lessen the impact we make on our planet’s natural systems. Importantly business investors agree and nextProtein has key support from high-profile European investment and business angels.

Importantly for our business case, the Black Soldier Fly can be reared on organic waste, namely fruit and vegetables from markets, which are some of the substrates approved by the EU. Our operations include local partnerships; ensuring supply of such otherwise inconsumable organic matter does not go to waste.

Indeed, hygiene and safety in this new sector is also paramount. This is why nextProtein is a member of a task force within the industry group International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) that is working on developing a good hygiene practices manual for the sector.

Our goal for next year is to be able to convert between five and 10 tonnes of organic waste into one tonne of protein and oil from our new 2500m2 production site and with our 15-person team. To put this in perspective, our process can produce the equivalent amount of protein from 100sqm of insect farm as 100ha of soy field.

This means a dramatic reduction in land, energy and water use for the same protein value and of course a huge reduction in the associated emissions from supporting transport and logistics, given most formulators are Europe based.

Read the full article, HERE.

Visit the nextProtein website, HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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