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3 Alternatives to Insect-Based Pet Food Ingredients


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Of the millions of insect species on Earth, arthropod agriculture has adopted only a few types. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), crickets and mealworms are among the few insects that are reared for use as pet food ingredients.

Crickets meet the demands of the pet owner

As livestock, insects use water, forage, and fewer resources than land of mammals or birds. Cricket pet food can meet consumers’ demands for humanely raised protein sources. Crickets naturally live in groups and instinctively prefer dark, warm places, such as those found on cricket farms.

“If you’re looking for humanitarian causes, we were an option,” Jimini founder and CEO Anne Carlson told Petfood Industry at Superzoo 2021. “Looking for a hypoallergenic treatment? There we were again. Sustainable? Fights climate change? Pre-biotic? We were an option for all these consumers.”

Dog and cat food made from crickets, black soldier fly larvae and other insects satisfy many of the pet owner’s demands, she said. Especially among Millennials and Gen Zs, sustainability and social awareness has become a guiding principle for buying.

“When you’re being hit day by day by news of wildfires, droughts and rivers drying up, it’s tempting to find products that hit back,” Carlson said.

Crickets can also meet nutritional demands. Scientists in Thailand fed dogs one of three diets consisting of either silkworms, domestic crickets or a control diet with poultry food. The journal Animals published their research. The dried matter of domestic cricket in 100 g samples contained 54.4 g of crude protein, 16.7 g of crude fat, 8.53 g of crude fiber and 5.82 g of ash. Among dogs fed one of three diets, researchers found no statistically significant difference in body weight, body condition score, feed intake, fecal output, fecal score and fecal moisture, or dry matter, apparent total tract digestibility of organic matter. did not see a significant difference. , crude protein and crude fat. The researchers concluded that both crickets and silkworms have potential as novel, insect-based pet food ingredients.

BSFL forging ahead in manufacturing pet food

In 2021, the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) defined black soldier fly larvae for use in pet foods, specifically in dog products intended for adult maintenance only. Leo Wen, founder and CEO of Protenga, a black soldier fly manufacturer and processor, said as insects move toward regulatory approval in the United States, upper-class Southeast Asian families tend to avoid insects on their plates. For example, consuming insects is not part of an urban, affluent lifestyle in Singapore. Southeast Asian pet owners would not be impressed to accept insects in pet food in the context of rustic insect street food. Instead insect-based pet food trends filter through Western trends into Southeast Asian pet products.

Protenga’s black soldier fly larvae are processed into its flagship products Hermet Protein, Hermet Oil, Hermet Frass and YumGrubs pet food line. Wen said that wet dog food allows the nutritional quality of the black soldier larvae to shine through at its best. Protenga plans to expand into dry kibble and cat food. Protenga will first distribute YumGrubs in Singapore and Malaysia, with the potential to expand regionally and into the US and Europe. In addition, Protenga provides co-production services for other pet food brands around the world using its plant in Singapore.

In Protenga facilities, black soldier flies require less food and water than cows, chickens or other livestock. A greater amount of protein and oil can be grown on less land with pests than mammals or birds. For these reasons, insect-based ingredients can be an ecologically sustainable alternative. However, many pet foods are made from parts of two- or four-legged animals that humans do not eat. It is not straightforward to compare the ecological impact of animal farms to bug farms. Insects may require less water and food to produce a certain amount of protein than cows. Still, if nutritious but low-status parts of that cow, such as the heart, don’t go into pet food, those by-products lose value and may be worthless. Scientists have not fully resolved these protein stability paradoxes.

Food bugs spread from traditional markets

Meal insects, such as crickets, already had a place in the pet food industry as food for reptiles, amphibians, birds and other pets. While mealworms continue in these roles, dog and cat food can use the proteins and oils of the food. The rise of backyard poultry as camouflage pets has also expanded the mealworm market. For example, Nebraska-based Zord Producers has been added to Insect’s production portfolio, marking the entry of a global leader in North American mealworm production. The move follows Insect’s introduction to the US market in November 2021, when it announced it would supply high value-added protein to Seattle WA start-up Pure Simple True, selling ultra-premium and luxury food for dogs. Is. brand Bernie’s,

With the world’s largest vertical insect farm in France, Insect Buffalo and Molitor turns mealworms into material for feeding animals, fish, plants and humans. The acquisition of Jord Producers, one of America’s largest mealworm producers, reflects not only the pest’s continued expansion into the US market, but also its entry into the backyard chicken feed market.

“Novel protein sources are critical to meeting growing consumer expectations of sustainability, nutrition, natural products and supply chain transparency,” said Amy Rudolph, vice president of business development at insect entrepreneur Beta Hatch. According to their Petfood Forum 2021 presentation, “Eating Insects as a Sustainable Alternative Protein for Pet Food and Treats,” the increased pressure on the global food system is an important reason for the growing interest in insects as protein sources.

With regard to the growing human and domesticated population and their needs, Rudolph said, “The current food system may not hold up to this level of production in the same way as it has in the past.”

Feeding the billions of pets and people on Earth, the planet’s millions of insect species could provide solutions for feeding dogs, cats and other pets with sustainable protein and oil content, especially the three species detailed here.



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