Buzzing: Regulation, one down, more to go
Howdy all, how are you this week? My mealworms are slowly recovering, but I think I may need to buy more adults to boost the colony…
This week in Buzzing:
Insect protein in poultry and pig feed isn’t an end all be all
Insects in space & other science stories
Test Corner: Insect pasta
As mentioned briefly last edition, the EU has approved the use of insects in poultry and pig feed. The law came into force this week, which made me reflect on the significance of this event.
It is the biggest regulatory development in the sector since I’ve started working on it but its application has come without fanfare: just because you can now add insect protein into poultry and pig feed doesn’t mean all chickens will now feed on Black Soldier Fly larvae. (As a side note, live insects were already allowed – the new regulation applies to processed insects.)
In fact, it is probably going to be a while until insect protein becomes widespread in poultry and pig feed. Poultry and pig feed are the largest animal feed markets, but they’re also the most competitive. Insect protein will be in direct competition with commodities such as soy, which are much cheaper.
But there’s also the issue of supply. All the insect protein currently produced – all 10,000 tonnes of it – doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of the existing markets (aquafeed and pet food), let alone those of a new, even bigger market. So why was it so important for the sector to crack poultry and pig feed?
My sense is that for many, it was a question of principle. Antoine Hubert, CEO of Ÿnsect, says that it was important to “level the playing field”, to put insect protein on a regulatory par with soy and fishmeal. Kees Aarts, CEO of Protix, says that it was also a case of updating “legislation that no longer made sense”: the ban on processed animal protein (PAP) came in the wake of the BSE (mad cow) crisis in the 1990s, but extensive research has shown that feeding insect protein to poultry and pig is safe. Insects naturally feature in the diet of wild poultry and pigs after all…
This is not to say that this new piece of legislation is an end all be all for the sector. There are still many hurdles ahead, chief amongst them broadening the list of feedstocks that can be used to feed insects (substrates). For waste-led companies such as AgriGrub, that is the priority.
Still, it is a real milestone, and a clear sign that times are changing, so here’s to more insects in our food chain and the next regulation.
In Other News
This delicious-looking ant and avocado on toast is edible insect ambassador and chef Joseph Yoon’s playful tribute to space exploration. After hearing that the latest SpaceX shipment for the International Space Station included ants and avocados (as well as ice-cream, brine shrimp, lemons and various plants), the Brooklyn Bugs executive director said in a tweet that he “couldn’t help but think how the two literally pair together so perfectly as food”. I hope the astronauts agree.
Entocycle (UK) is running frass trials with commercial orchard Bardsley England. (Twitter)
Tommy Trenchard is an amazing photojournalist and this photo story on a BSF farm in South Africa is as great to look at as it is to read. (BBC News)
Insects in your face-mask? How Insectta is developing chitin products. (CNN)
An engaging edition of the Bunker podcast on edible insects, featuring the always brilliant Brian Fisher of the California Academy of Sciences and Tilly Collins of Imperial College London.
Test Corner: Insect pasta
Who doesn’t like pasta? We are big fans in the Buzzing household, insect pasta was therefore high on the list of wanna-tries. Like all alternative pasta, they’re not cheap but like snack bars, a really great way to try insects in a familiar product, or to get your protein through every day foods.
Sens Cricket Protein Pasta
I was intrigued by this product because the base ingredient (90%) is red lentils rather than wheat flour (which means it’s also gluten-free). It gives the dry pasta a very appetising red colour, which sadly turns brown when cooked (similar to wholemeal pasta). It contains 10% cricket flour, produced at Sens’s very own farm in Thailand.
Because the pasta is made mostly of red lentils, the texture is crumblier than a wheat-based pasta. It also has a distinct herbal and earthy flavour, which I thought the kids were going to object to. They didn’t though, partly because once smothered in tomato sauce and a generous helping of grated parmesan, you wouldn’t really be able to tell.
Although the flavour isn’t my favourite, I was impressed to see that it contains 30% protein thanks all these lentils and crickets. A true protein alternative.
€3.89 for a 200g box
Plumento Foods Tagliatelle
I loved these: they were basically delicious, broad tagliatelle pasta, with the added bonus of a 10% protein boost. The insect is buffalo worm, and you really can’t taste it. It didn’t affect the colour either. These were, to all intents and purposes, “normal” pasta.
I served them with a basic tomato sauce dotted with green olives and our favourite chili oil (see picture above). Scrumptious. Were it not for the price, they would become kitchen cupboard staples.
€3.99 for a 250g bag.