European legislation should be adapted to allow insect products as a sustainable and innovative source of animal proteins for food consumption and animal feed. Insect producers issued this call on Monday in Brussels, where they came together to formally establish IPIFF, the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed.
“Our planet faces huge challenges because of the growing population and increasing competition for scarce resources, and we believe that insects are part of the solution”, said IPIFF’s president Antoine Hubert. “That’s why we joined forces to create IPIFF, so that we can speak to the EU institutions and partners from the food & feed chain with one voice. As a pivotal actor in this process we will strive to make insect protein available to EU farmers, companies and consumers.”
The current EU legislation is not tailored to insect proteins specificities. This lack of legal certainty is jeopardising the investments and production plans of companies, thus restricting the availability of this promising source of protein for EU farmers & customers.
In the EU, insect companies mainly produce for pet food. However, the potential for insect meal is huge, especially for the aquaculture feed sector. IPIFF is asking for the revision of the EU feed legislation in order to allow insect products reared on 100% vegetables substrates to be used as sources of proteins for aquaculture, poultry and pigs.
“Production techniques have been developed in recent years and are now being deployed at industrial scale by companies which comply with stringent risk management procedures. Insect derived products can therefore be used in nutritional and functional feed applications at competitive prices, whilst complying with EU highest standards in terms of food & feed safety”, said IPIFF’s vice-president Tarique Arsiwalla.
IPIFF was launched at the Brussels meeting on Monday by insect-producing companies from the Netherlands, France, Germany and South Africa. The association is open to firms that are part of the feed and food value chain.
The launch was followed by a meeting with high level representatives of the EU institutions and stakeholders. Wolfgang Trunk, responsible for animal nutrition at the European Commission’s directorate-general for health and food safety (DG Santé), appreciated the fact that the insect producers have now merged their forces: “We are happy that we now have one counterpart in our day-to-day contacts.”
The launch of IPIFF was also greeted by Pekka Pesonen, head of the European farmers and agri-cooperatives organisation Copa-Cogeca – who stressed the importance of communicating openly towards partners and consumers on the benefits of insect-based proteins – and by Alexander Döring, secretary-general of the European Compound Feed Industry FEFAC.
An innovative sector
Insects are an abundantly available resource with a high nutritional value and a tiny ecological footprint. They offer a valuable and sustainable addition to soybean and fishmeal, the most common protein sources for aquaculture and livestock. Meal worms (Tenebrio Molitor), according to studies (FAO 2013, Wageningen University), convert 10 kg of cereals into 7 kg of insect meal, a conversion factor 7 to 8 times higher than that of cattle. Insect-based products can be applied in many different fields, not only in the food and feed sectors, but in the future also in the area of green chemistry or fertilizers.
The time to act is now, said IPIFF. The demand for animal protein is expected to rise by 70 to 80% until the year 2050. Meeting this challenge will require innovative solutions. Insect producers say they stand ready to upgrade production to a larger scale, once the necessary legislation is adapted.
\"Fly larvae protein now a commercial reality for aquafeed\" By David ‘Wilco’ Drew, Managing Director, AgriProtein, Cape Town, South Africa (AQUAFEED: Advances in Processing & Formulation Vol 7, issue 1)