Posted Feb 7 2020 at 10:00 am
Faced with the global appetite for animal proteins, Europeans and
are building a solid industry capable of responding to it: insect farming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), insect production is expected to increase by 20% over the next five years.
The industrialists also advance their figures. In a study by Ipiff, the European organization of insect producers, published in December 2019, 5 million tonnes should be produced annually. This scenario is the most optimistic. “It will depend a lot on the evolution of the legislation. If nothing changes, production will not exceed 1.5 million tonnes “, nevertheless warns Antoine Hubert, president of Ipiff and co-founder of Ynsect, one of the world leaders in the sector.
The actors have their eyes riveted on Brussels. This is where things gradually changed in terms of regulations. Researchers and manufacturers have demonstrated the qualities, particularly in terms of health, of their products. For about five years, insect meal has been used in pet food, and has been authorized for two years in aquaculture. As a result, the sector took off, directly taking projects from the laboratory bench to industrial scale.
Seven species allowed
Small businesses for the time being are thriving with fundraising.
is currently investing more than 100 million euros, on the outskirts of Amiens, in the construction of a giant mealworm production unit. Not far from there, in Nesles, also in the Somme, its counterpart
finalizes the construction of a site, one of the largest in the world. Inaugurated in April, it will have required 50 million euros to industrialize a cutting-edge technology developed by the company, which employs around a hundred employees, including sixty engineers. Other units are also in the pipeline. This is the case for the start-up Agronutris, created in Saint-Orens-de-Gameville (Haute-Garonne), which decided to set up in Rethel, in the Ardennes, a protein production unit based on black soldier flies, one of the seven species authorized at the moment. In total, the amount of investments made in Europe – mainly in France, the sector leader – is already around 600 million euros.
2 billion investment
And things could still take off if the legislation evolves and allows the use of these insect proteins for other farms, especially in the poultry or pig sectors. Nearly 2 billion additional investment could then follow by the middle of this decade, according to forecasts from Ipiff, resulting in the creation of around 100,000 jobs. “With our partners, we are working on the marketing in the coming months of poultry fed with insect oil, a world first. The effect on the market will be identical to the explosion in demand in aquaculture ”, is delighted for its part Clément Ray, president of InnovaFeed.
Some have relied on human food, like Jimini’s or Insectéo, pioneers in the manufacture of aperitif cookies made from insects. These niches should, however, remain limited according to manufacturers, in particular because of the reluctance due to cultural habits. Unlike health foods, which are considered to be promising. Food supplements and other oils rich in omega 3, amino acids, magnesium or vitamin A could eventually invade the shelves of specialized stores and pharmacies.
Recent studies, carried out in particular by the companies Ynsect and Innovafeed, tend to demonstrate the anticholesterol and even anticancer properties of certain insect proteins. If the projects seem to be swarming, the manufacturers are still discreet on this point. In the insect world, silence is golden.