Insect-based aquafeeds don't change the taste of salmon and trout
Testers found no significant difference between traditionally-fed salmon and insect-fed salmon and trout, except for a more intense coloration of the flesh and improved juiciness.
As part of developing insect-fed value chains in aquaculture, InnovaFeed and its partners have conducted in-depth research on the impact of including insect protein in salmonids feed on the end-product quality and taste.
Expertly trained taste testers evaluated salmon and trout fillets in comparative trials. Across approximately 20 pre-determined parameters evaluating taste, smell, texture and appearance, testers found no significant difference between traditionally-fed salmon and insect-fed salmon and trout, except for a more intense coloration of the flesh and improved juiciness (Fig 1.). When faced with a triangular test - designed to determine if expert tasters are able to identify an “experimental” sample in a blind test - no experts were able to organoleptically differentiate insect-fed salmon or trout from traditionally-fed salmon.
These results were confirmed by InnovaFeed through several independent trials across both salmon and trout and are supported by literature describing trials conducted by other actors who also concluded that there is no negative impact on the sensory experience for consumers through the inclusion of black soldier fly proteins. In fact, the nutritional analysis conducted on filets support there is no significant impact on composition, and thus quality, while some trends indicating higher omega-3 retention in the fish’s flesh that could explain the boost in juiciness and the intensity of the color (both factors being related to fatty acid absorption).
The performance on shelves in supermarkets of insect-fed trout is perhaps the most telling indicator of its taste and quality. In 2018, Auchan launched, with partners Truite service, Skretting and InnovaFeed, the world’s first insect-fed fish value chain. Key to the concept was that consumers would be able to recognize, through a specific label on the packaging, those trout fed on insects as distinct. Since 2018, this value chain has expanded across France, and sales have outperformed expectations with sales rising by 40% over the past 2019 and 2020 while other seafood produces experienced much lower growth. This success has led to the launch of other insect-fed value chains including poultry and swine over the past two years.
“Insects are a sustainable ingredient that is proven to keep salmon and trout delicious while ensuring that consumers and the planet can stay happy and healthy. As insects have a natural place at the heart of food chains (up to 70% of a trout’s natural diet), their ability to support the final fillet quality is unsurprising,” the company said.
In 2020, InnovaFeed launched the world’s largest insect vertical farm, with the ambition of supporting the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry and providing consumers with the same great products, with a fraction of the environmental cost.
Figure 1. Sensory profile of both salmon (A) and trout (B) comparing insect (Red) and traditionally fed (Blue). Conducted by Capinov.