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Photo: ATB

Opening up insect protein as animal feed

Black soldier fly (Photo: paulrommer_123rf)

Black soldier fly (Photo: paulrommer_123rf)

The sustainable and resilient cultivation of insects for innovative use in feed and food production is the aim of the reKultI4Food project coordinated by FiBL Germany. The nutrient utilization and nutrient requirements of insects, the utilization of residual and side streams from food production as well as possible applications in aquaculture are being investigated. In addition, microbial risks are being assessed.

High-quality animal proteins are difficult to substitute with plant proteins in pig and poultry feed as well as in aquaculture. The use of insect protein could significantly improve the sustainability of livestock farming - especially if the insect protein is produced on by-products and residual streams from food production. It can also close gaps in nutrient cycles.

So far, however, the economic production of insect protein has proven difficult, as the production and processing methods for insect protein cannot yet compete with conventional protein feeds such as fish meal or soy. Moreover, the added-value potential of insect ingredients has hardly been exploited so far. A project that has just been launched aims to offer a solution to this problem.

The project "Sustainable and resilient cultivation of insects for innovative use in feed and food production" (reKultI4Food) aims to help minimize future protein deficits, improve the sustainability of food production, and increase the economic viability of insect protein. The focus is on the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens), which is promising for feed and food production. Apart from gaining a better understanding of the nutrient utilization and nutrient requirements of insect larvae, the scientists in the project are interested in clarifying how sustainable insect production can be improved by utilizing side and residual streams from food production. Which microbiological parameters need to be identified that are relevant for consumers and authorities with regard to the production of insect protein? In a final practical pilot, insect protiein will be fed and evaluated in aquaculture (shrimp).

In this project, coordinated by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), partners from science and industry are working together: AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG, CrustaNova GmbH, Evonik Operations GmbH, Hermetia Baruth GmbH, Südzucker AG and the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomics e.V. (ATB). ATB has been conducting research on the topic of "Alternative Bioresources" for years and is contributing its extensive expertise to the project collaboration. (more)

Contact ATB: Dr. Oliver Schlüter

Background: The NewFoodSystems Innovation Space is one of a total of four Innovation Spaces in the "Bioeconomy Innovation Spaces" program, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the "Bioeconomy 2030 National Research Strategy". Over a period of five years, the BMBF will provide up to 20 million euros in funding for each innovation space. The NewFoodSystems Innovation Space is coordinated by Max Rubner Institute (MRI) in close cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV). Currently, 59 partners from science and industry have joined the transdisciplinary consortium.

The basic idea of the Innovation Space is to bring together partners from food research and industry in order to jointly initiate bioeconomic innovations and to use research results more comprehensively than before. NewFoodSystems works on new approaches for tomorrow's nutrition and sees itself as a platform for research and development of new food systems, products and services with a unique portfolio of partners covering almost all relevant areas of food supply.