While pet food, mainly for cats and dogs, currently has the highest demand for insect protein, a report released by Rabobank, an agriculture banking specialist, found that its high protein factor and low production costs could make it viable for the animal feed market.
The report, titled “No Longer Crawling: Insect Protein to Come of Age in the 2020s” described the nutritional, functional and environmental benefits that insect-based nutrition could offer in the animal feed market.
The report forecasted that insect protein demand would reach half a million tonnes by 2030 with the insects’ proteins circular food systems being a key benefit.
The ability to take low value agri-food materials, such as food waste, and turn it into high value proteins through the insects was a highlighted benefit.
The high protein content of at least 50 to 80 per cent on a dry matter basis as well as the lower environmental footprint, such as less required space, water and production time also presented insect protein has a viable option.
The report did find challenges, stating that “The industry’s first challenge is the lack of scale”, with high costs limited demand for the product and differing global legislation on feedstocks and animal farming providing another hurdle.
The report also found that a number of start-ups in Australia was contributing to the growth in the insect-protein market.
“For example, GoTerra, an Australian-based alumni of FoodBytes! by Rabobank, utilises bugs as animal feed, whilst simultaneously solving waste management issues,” said Beyhan De Jong, Rabobanks analyst. “We expect to see more local companies using insect protein to help mitigate waste and contribute to this progressive industry in the future.”
But what about insect protein for human food? De Jong said that while the nutrition, health hand sustainable aspects of insect protein were there, consumer acceptance was low in developed countries.
“However, in our view, insects have a larger potential as feed ingredient than as a direct consumer food in the next decade,” said De Jong.