Insects as food and feed: A sustainable solution for the future.

The planet faces enormous challenges due to population growth and the increasingly fierce competition for scarce resources. The global population is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that food production must increase by 70% by then, primarily to feed this growing population. Meat consumption and demand are projected to increase by 72% between 2000 and 2030, while a shortfall of 60 million tons of protein is projected by 2030 to meet the expected demand.

Moreover, the production of animal feed increasingly competes for resources (land, water, and fertilizers) with the production of food for humans and/or fuel, thereby increasing pressure on the environment (for example, water supply, deforestation, or soil decline in producing countries).

The International Platform for Insects as Food and Feed (IPIFF) and its members believe that insects as food and feed are part of the solution to these challenges.

Insects as food.

Although insects are already a part of the basic diet of approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide, various indicators show that insects could soon become a widely accepted component of Western societies’ diets, including Europe. Insects contain nutrient levels particularly relevant for human consumption, being especially rich in proteins, essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Edible insects have a well-balanced nutrient profile to meet human dietary needs.

Insects for animal feed.

Key points also emerge from research studies indicating that insects have a number of characteristics making them suitable for use in animal feed. Insects contribute a high protein content while being rich in other beneficial nutrients such as fats, minerals, and vitamins. The protein concentration levels in insect proteins intended for animal feed vary between 55% and 75%. Insects are characterized by having a higher feed conversion rate and, therefore, can become a highly valuable food source for farm animals (FAO study 2013; Wageningen UR Livestock Research, 2012). Insects are a natural component of the diets of animals like carnivorous fish, poultry, and pigs (for example, insects can provide up to 70% of the dietary needs of trout).

Adopting insects as a source of food and feed presents a promising opportunity to address the sustainability challenges of food and the environment in the future, offering an efficient and sustainable alternative for protein production.

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