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Fecha: 15 de Junio de 2020
Autor: Marieke Ploegmakers
Since July 2017, when using insect proteins in aqua feed was authorised in Europe, more than 5,000 tonnes of insects have been produced in the EU for fish production, according to a survey by the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF). IPIFF forecasts that by 2030 3 million tonnes of insect protein will be produced annually. To reach these volumes production will need to be scaled up. By September 2019, insect producers in the EU had invested more than € 600 million in scaling up their production and, according to IPIFF, more than € 2.5 billion will be invested by mid-2020. However, this growth depends on the right legislative framework. Insect protein legislation
In certain regions outside the EU, such as Africa, Asia and Mexico, consumption and farming of insects is commonplace. Producers in these regions – where legislation is fragmentary or even absent – have fewer restrictions. In Europe, insect production is a relativity new and fast emerging sector, but legislation has yet to catch up. Insects are classified as farmed animals and can only be fed with feed ingredients that are authorised for farmed animals, such as plant origin material, eggs, milk and derived products. This is creating several challenging issues, for example insects cannot be fed with former foodstuffs containing ingredients of animal origin – on the other hand, insect protein may not be fed to farm animals, with the exception of aquaculture species. “To upscale insect production it is essential that wider use of former foodstuffs is legalised. In addition, feeding insects with such foodstuffs can play a major role in reducing food waste and is therefore in line with the new released ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy of the European Commision. Authorising former foodstuffs containing meat and fish as insect feed is one of our main priorities.” says Constantin Muraru, Communication Manager of IPIFF.
Insects part of a sustainable food chain
In the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, the European Commission sets goals for a sustainable food chain. According to IPIFF President Antoine Hubert, producing insects for using in feed and food is in line with moving towards a more sustainable and resilient food system. “Insects could bring value by upcycling former foodstuffs and by-products of the feed industry and insect production would contribute to the EU’s self-sufficiency in terms of protein-rich feed materials. Besides, insects or by-products from insect production – such as insect faeces – could provide sustainable biobased solutions,” Antoine Hubert explains. To fully contribute to the objectives of the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy IPIFF states that unlocking certain regulatory opportunities is needed and the association therefore considers it essential for the European Commission to develop a roadmap for the revision of the EU legislation on animal by-products. “IPIFF and its members are fully committed to playing a proactive role in collaboration with the EU institutions and national authorities,” concluded IPIFF Secretary-General Christophe Derrien. In the EU insects can only be fed with feed ingredients that are authorised for farmed animals, such as material with a plant origin. Insects cannot be fed with former foodstuffs containing materials of animal origin. Photo: Tomasz Klejdysz
Automatising insect feeding is essential
It appears that there are still many hurdles to be overcome. Nevertheless, companies continue to invest in the insect business. Since insect protein was legalised for use in aqua feed, production got a boost. Insect producers from other regions are moving to Europe and feed companies are exploring the possibilities of adding insect products to their range. VDL Agrotech, which specialises in feeding machines for pigs and poultry, is developing a feeding machine for the insect market. Feeding insects is labour-intensive, as this is now usually done manually. “Insects are kept in crates and they need to be hand-fed every day. We are developing a system which ensures that feeding the insects is automated. Mechanisation and automation are necessary to achieve higher production volumes and to keep the cost price attractive.” Tim van Heertum, project engineer at VDL Agrotech, explains. The feeding machine the company is testing will mechanically transport the crates in which the insects are housed to a central feeding station. “Each insect producer has their own feed recipe, so the idea is that the feeding machine will dose different types of feed, such as various grains, liquids and even carrots, for example. The type of feed also varies for the different stages in the life-cycle of the insects. This is why we aim to include an identification and registration system.” Developing the new feeding system is now in the test phase. The first prototype of the machine should be available by the end of this year, according to Tim van Heertum.
Insect companies are waiting for the green light
The insect sector is developing rapidly and companies are ready to take their insect business to the next level. Unfortunately, legislation is not on their side and, as a result, the sector seems to be on hold. Until former foodstuffs containing meat and fish are allowed as substrates and insect protein can be used as an ingredient in pig and poultry feed, the scale-up will proceed slowly. In the meantime, companies are investing in automatisation of their production, providing new feed ingredients for the aquaculture market. As soon as legislation allows, this innovative sector will grow rapidly.
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