Dutch feed company Coppens and Dutch insect producer Protix Biosystems have signed an agreement to include insect meal in livestock feed.
The companies have everything is in place to start using insect meal in livestock feed, when legislation allows. At the moment, the use of insects in animal feed is prohibited.
Coppens agreed on the use of 200 tonnes insect fat and 300 tonnes insect protein, produced by Protix. This amount can be incorporated in 15,000 tonnes of compound feed. The fat and protein is made from the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly. Protix produces 2.5 to 3 tonnes of insects per week. The Black Soldier Fly is chosen for its short life cycle and the ability to produce a lot of eggs.
The (purified) fat, extracted from the larvae, is already allowed to be used in animal diets, that will be the initial focus for Coppens. The fat has been purified to a purity level of at least 99.5% at low FFA% (free fatty acid). However, the use of the insect protein (fat extracted) in animal feed is still prohibited due to different feed safety and quality laws, for example the TSE regulation. These laws often have no good place for insects and insects are often prompted in the category of 'farm animals' and can therefore not be processed to feed to other farm animals. Together with the Dutch government and the EU, Protix wants to work on the admission of insect meal in animal feed. Kees Aarts from Protix, expects that the use of insect meal will be allowed next summer.
Hendrik de Vor, general manager at Coppens, indicates that the production costs for insect meal are still relatively high, but sees potential in further development of the concept. For starters, Coppens wants to incorporate the insect based ingredients for specialised diets, such as for piglets. The high digestibility of the ingredients make it very suitable for young animals. Scaling-up the production volumes, to be used in more animal diets, will require a bit more time.
Both companies emphasise that insects are part of the natural diet of chickens and pigs. Chitin, found in the exoskeleton from insects, have an anti- microbial effect. The effects of insect nutrients on the health of piglets will be further investigated .
Protix Biosystems showcased its products at the recently held 'Insects to feed the world' symposium in Ede, the Netherlands. The purified fat and insect meal were on display and attracted many visitors. Legislation was one of the hot topics discussed at the conference. It is not clear yet, when legislation will allow the use of insect meal in livestock feed.