UK Govt urged to develop monetary help for insect farming

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The study, published by UK’s largest retailer Tesco and environmental group WWF, says total insect meal demand from the UK pork, poultry and salmon sectors could reach around 540,000 tonnes per year by 2050. She calls on the UK government to investigate the potential and regulatory requirements for adding additional substrates for insect breeding, urges them to provide financial support to expand industries and encourage suppliers and retailers to work together to meet the demand for insect meal and to support the move away from a feeding system that is destroying nature. The report comes just weeks after the European Commission confirmed that the European Union will allow insect-derived protein to be fed to poultry and pigs.

The report was honest – soy will be with us for some time to come.

Replacement of 524,000 tons of soy

When the report was released, Molly Gupta, WWF Raw Materials Forestry Officer, spoke about the key benefits of using insect meal. She said its high protein (56-82%) was equivalent to fishmeal (65%) and was higher than that of soy (48%). Gupta argued that if the insect meal sector hits 540,000 tonnes, it could result in the replacement of 524,000 tonnes of soy and 16,000 tonnes of fishmeal – that’s one-fifth of the UK’s projected soy imports in 2050, or Tesco UK’s total soy footprint in 2018. Around 150,000 hectares of land are required to produce this amount of soy annually. She said that around 240,000 tonnes of insect meal could come from 20-25 UK manufacturing plants by 2050, adding that while the cost of making insect meal in 2030 would still be higher than soy (£ 500 / ton vs. £ 400 / ton) but the cost of production would decrease with economies of scale.

We need to see that the government has an important role to play in providing financial incentives and working with industry to increase demand for insect meal.

Government plays an important role

Helena Delgardo Nordmann, Tesco partnership and marine chief, said the retailer had worked with insect startups for the past 4-5 years and realized that there was an urgent need to provide more food sustainability for farm animals in order to make the transition to support a cycle economy. “We need to see that government has an important role to play in providing financial incentives and working with industry to increase demand for insect meal,” she said. Ben Sharples, a partner on Michelmores’ agriculture team, said it was important that the UK keep pace with changes in the EU after Brexit, but also form “our own rules”. The UK had to find out what substrates could be used and what precautionary principle should be applied. Monica Betanco, a lecturer in aquaculture at the University of Stirling, said she worked with Norwegian producers to use “very tasty” black soldier flies in insect meal for her farmed fish sector.

There is good public perception, added Dr. Betanco added, although problems related to high saturated fat and ketone levels needed and have been addressed.

Insect protein in animal feed
Insects are seen as a soy alternative with high potential, as the production of insects only requires limited amounts of water and land and can add value to low-value by-products. For the latest developments in the industry click here …

William Clark, Zero Waste Scotland’s bioeconomy specialist, said there were amazing opportunities to create green jobs for Scotland’s agricultural sector, but currently it is facing an uphill battle to compete with the anaerobic digestion industry, which has received huge government subsidies. And James McCulloch, spokesman for the Agricultural Industries Confederation, added that while the sector has potential, it will not replace soy overnight: “The report was honest – soy will be with us for some time to come.” McCulloch said the animal feed sector will too Look for other soy alternatives – rapeseed meal, peas, beans, lupins, and sunflower meal, as well as other protein-rich alternatives like synthetic amino acids.

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