Insect Proteins: A Lucrative Market

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Last modified: 8 May 2023

Insect breeding for the production of protein is a booming business in which China, with its lax legislation, has assumed a leading role. But the Dutch are getting in on the act with the production of sustainable proteins from insects. Brabant-based insect processor Protix has attracted an investor willing to put major funds into breeding facilities that can produce 1,600 tons of larvae per year. And that is just the beginning, the company told Financieele Dagblad this week. Insect protein harvesting could well become a million-ton industry in the Netherlands: a great opportunity for suppliers of industrial larva processing lines. What kind of processing equipment is needed to extract sustainable proteins from insect larvae? And who else in the food and feed industry, besides Protix, is willing to take on this challenge? In terms of sustainability, it is a promising challenge indeed. The insects can be fed organic waste, and the conversion ratio of feed to insect protein is approximately 2:1. That is comparable to salmon, but salmon must eat fishmeal, which is leading to the overfishing of our oceans. Besides, fish farms have a big environmental footprint, while insects can be farmed in stackable containers on an industrial estate. Also, they are not subject to the kind of animal welfare laws that require, for instance, that cattle can graze grass or chickens can range freely outdoors. The closer together insects are packed, the more easily they can keep warm and the better they feel, which essentially makes insect farms very efficient protein factories. So bring it on! The world is waiting for the technical solutions that could unleash the insect protein revolution!

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