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Insects: A pillar of tomorrow’s food industry

Research revealed that customers are strongly in favor for the introduction of insects in fish feed which they view as “natural” and “sustainable” as many species like salmon feed on insects in the wild. They believe, however, in the importance of being made aware through clear communication.

alternatif proteinler

Maye Walraven
Head of Business Development
InnovaFeed

With a growing global deficit in high quality proteins (60 million tons by 2030), protein production will be one of the key issues of the upcoming decades. The situation is particularly precarious in Europe, where today 80% of crop protein is imported (mostly soybean meal). Insects, thanks to their ability to convert low-value biomass into high quality animal proteins and reintroduce them in the food chain, is emerging as an excellent solution to address this nutritional challenge. 2018 is a turning point for the development of the insect production industry with the implementation of the new European regulations allowing the use of insect protein in aquaculture.

AN INNOVATIVE AND SUSTAINABLE
SOURCE OF PROTEIN FOR AQUACULTURE
To tackle this challenge, the French company InnovaFeed, has confirmed the potential of a specific insect, the fly Hermitia Illucens, to produce protein for animal feed, more specifically for aquaculture. This fly is endemic in Europe, does not carry disease and is not invasive (identified as risk-free by the European Commission) and has proven to be a source of protein with a high nutritional value for fish.

By offering a natural, healthy new ingredient for fish feed, InnovaFeed wishes to contribute to the rise of a sustainable aquaculture and to the preservation of oceanic resources. Indeed, current wild fish stocks will not be sufficient to meet the growing needs of aquaculture. According to Clément Ray, the Chairman and co-founder of InnovaFeed, “the emergence of this new source of protein naturally corresponds to the needs of fish farming, and makes a direct contribution to developing high-quality aquaculture with a low environmental impact”.

A SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION MODEL
DEVELOPED BY INNOVAFEED
Building on several years of research at its Génopole R&D facility (biocluster of reference in France), InnovaFeed has developed a unique insect breeding model that enables the short-loop processing of agricultural food co-products into feed for insects.

In 2017 the company launched its first industrial production site in Gouzeaucourt (near Cambrai, at the heart of France’s crop-growing region) and validated this model. The key to success: combining cutting edge zootechnical research and a highly efficient industrial process. InnovaFeed’s insects are fed with by-products from the agro-industry, which are widely available locally and with few outlets…up to now! By providing a local and high-value outlet to agro-industry by-products, InnovaFeed creates value that benefits the local economies around its production sites. As part of the same ethical closed-loop approach, the organic waste generated by the insects is used as a natural enhancement for the local organic farming industry.

AN INDUSTRIAL SYMBIOSIS PARTNERSHIP
Buoyed up with the success of its first site, InnovaFeed has announced the construction of a new facility, with 10 times the capacity. The future production site will be located in Nesle, North of France, right next to the Tereos starch facility which will provide the agricultural co-products. “This collaboration is based on the convergence of our expertise and ambitions for the future. For Tereos – a major player on the world-wide plant-based protein market – this facility reflects its status as a preferred partner for the development of innovative outlets that create value” says Yves Belegaud, Chief Executive Officer Europe for the Tereos Group.

For InnovaFeed, this partnership secures the plant resources required to develop its business activities, thanks to a formula developed jointly with Tereos’ expertise. It also provides access to the utilities already available on the industrial platform.

The industrial integration process set up by the two companies also aims to be a textbook example of industrial symbiosis. By designing this short loop procurement and recovery system, InnovaFeed and Tereos are contributing to optimizing the use of natural resources, with a strong positive impact on climate change. The operation of this unit is scheduled to begin in the last quarter of 2019 and will enable the avoidance of 25,000 tons of CO2 per year.

A VIRTUOUS APPROACH FROM FEED TO FORK
Aware of the importance for end customers to understand where their food comes from, InnovaFeed conducted extensive marketing research over the past year to better understand the social acceptability of feeding fish with insects. The results of their focus groups and surveys revealed that customers are strongly in favor for the introduction of insects in fish feed which they view as “natural” and “sustainable” as many species like Salmon feed on insects in the wild. They believe, however, in the importance of being made aware through clear communication.

As part of a commercial partnership with French retailer Auchan, InnovaFeed has started collaborating with fish farmers earlier this year to feed insect protein to trout with which are sold in supermarkets under a special “insect-fed” label. A dedicated website was launched to provide information on the project and enable customers to learn about this innovative and sustainable approach (www.nourrialinsecte.com). The plan is to also extent the product line to Salmon in the near future.

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We also suggest you to read our previous article titled "ALTERNATIVE RAW MATERIAL FOR FEED AND INSECT INDUSTRIES".

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