Insects and insect-derived products are a valuable source of protein for animal feed and foodstuffs. This is now a widely supported belief. Nevertheless, the actual application in daily practice is still in its infancy. The EU research project SUSINCHAIN (sustainable insect chain) aims to expedite this process. ForFarmers is the only animal feed supplier involved in this project.
SUSINCHAIN involves a large number of European universities and companies that have joined forces to speed up the large-scale use of insect proteins. This is urgently needed, emphasises Ad van Wesel, Director of the Nutrition and Innovation Centre (NIC) of ForFarmers. "A reliable and sustainable supply of protein for animal feed and foodstuffs is crucial. It is important to investigate whether there are good alternatives to the current sources of protein.”
By-products from foodstuff production are a suitable source of food for insects. These by-products have little nutritional value of their own, but can be upgraded via the insects to high-quality proteins, amino acids and vitamins. These are important building blocks in the production of livestock rations. Insects are, therefore, considered to be the 'missing link' within the food system of a circular and sustainable economy.
Van Wesel: "A lot of scientific research has already been done on this subject. The facts are well known. The key issue now is to show that it can be applied in practice and that it is also economically viable.”
The NIC, among other things, carries out tests on the composition and production of feeds containing insects. At the test farms of ForFarmers, these feeds are then tested on cows, chickens and pigs. They examine such things as the taste and the effects the feeds have on the digestion and performance of the animals. Of course, the insects also need to be fed. The NIC also provides the food for the insects. Research is also being carried out into how insect manure could potentially be utilised.
SUSINCHAIN is a European project funded by the EU for four years. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) coordinates the project. The project is aiming to replace a part of the animal protein in feed and foodstuffs with insect protein by 2025.
For more information, please refer to the press release recently issued by WUR.