3 insect-based pet food ingredient options

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 bred for use as pet food ingredients.

Crickets meet the demands of pet owners

As livestock, insects use fewer resources compared to the water, food and land needs of mammals or birds. Crickets can meet the demands of pet food consumers for cruelty-free high protein sources. Crickets naturally live in groups and instinctively prefer dark, warm places, such as the conditions found on a cricket farm.

“If you are looking for humanitarian reasons, we were an option”, Anne Carlson, founder and CEO of Jiminy’s, said Petfood Industry at SuperZoo 2021. “Looking for a hypoallergenic treat? We were there again. Sustainable? Fight against climate change? Pre-biotic? We were an option for all those consumers.

Dog and cat foods made from crickets, black soldier fly larvae and other insects meet a range of demands from pet owners, she said. Especially among Millennials and Generation Z, sustainability and social awareness have become a guiding principle for shopping.

“When you’re impacted day in and day out by news about wildfires, droughts and drying up rivers, there’s motivation to find products that fight back,” Carlson said.

Crickets can also meet nutritional needs. Thai scientists fed dogs one of three diets containing either silkworms, house crickets or a control diet with poultry meal. The newspaper Animals published their research. In 100-gram samples, house cricket dry matter contained 54.4 grams of crude protein, 16.7 grams of crude fat, 8.53 grams of crude fiber, and 5.82 grams of ash. Among dogs fed any of the three diets, researchers observed no statistically significant differences in body weight, body condition score, food intake, fecal output, fecal score, and wetness. faecal, or the apparent total digestibility of dry matter, organic matter. , crude protein and crude fat. The researchers concluded that crickets and silkworms have potential as new insect-based pet food ingredients.

BSFL advances in pet food formulations

In 2021, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defined black soldier fly larvae for use in pet food, specifically in dog products intended for adult maintenance only. As insects move toward regulatory acceptance in the United States, upper-class households in Southeast Asia tend to avoid insects on their plates, said Leo Wein, founder and CEO of Protenga, producer and processor of black soldier flies. For example, eating insects is not part of an affluent urban lifestyle in Singapore. Southeast Asian pet owners would not be incentivized to accept insects in pet food by references to hardy street food for insects. Instead, insect-based pet food trends filter into Southeast Asian pet products through Western trends.

Protenga’s black soldier fly larvae are processed into its flagship products Hermet Protein, Hermet Oil, Hermet Frass and the YumGrubs pet food line. The wet dog food lets the nutritional quality of black soldier fly larvae shine through at their best, Wein said. Protenga plans to expand into dry kibble and cat food. Protenga will initially distribute YumGrubs in Singapore and Malaysia, with potential for regional expansion in the United States and Europe. Additionally, Protenga offers co-production services for other pet food brands globally using its Singapore facility.

In Protenga facilities, black soldier flies have lower food and water requirements than cows, chickens or other livestock. A higher volume of protein and oil can be raised on less land with insects compared to mammals or birds. For these reasons, insect-based ingredients can be an environmentally sustainable option. However, many pet foods are made with parts of these two- or four-legged animals that are not consumed by humans. Comparing the ecological ramifications of cattle ranches to those of insect farms is not straightforward. Insects may need less water and food to produce a certain amount of protein than cows. Yet if the nutritious but low-status parts of that cow, such as the hearts, are not used in pet food, these co-products will lose value and could be wasted. Scientists have not fully elucidated these paradoxes of protein durability.

Mealworms grow from conventional markets

Mealworms, like crickets, already had a place in the pet food industry as a meal for reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other pets. While mealworms continue to perform these roles, dog and cat foods can utilize mealworm protein and oil. The rise of backyard poultry as pseudo-pets has also expanded the market for mealworms. For instance, Jord Producers, based in Nebraska, has been incorporated into Ÿnsect’s production portfolio, signifying the entry of the world leader in mealworm production into North America. The move comes from the back of Ÿnsect’s US market introduction in November 2021, when it announced it would supply high-value protein to Seattle WA start-up Pure Simple True, selling ultra-premium and luxury dog ​​food under the brand at Bernie’s.

With the world’s largest vertical insect farm in France, Ÿnsect transforms Buffalo and Molitor mealworms into ingredients to feed animals, fish, plants and humans. The acquisition of Jord Producers, one of the largest mealworm producers in the United States, not only reflects Ÿnsect’s continued expansion into the US market, but also its entry into the chicken feed market. backyard.

“New sources of protein are key to meeting growing consumer expectations for sustainability, nutrition, natural products and supply chain transparency,” said Aimee Rudolph, vice president of business development at insect. entrepreneur. Beta outbreak. According to her pet food forum 2021 presentation, “Mealworms as a Sustainable Alternative Protein for Pet Foods and Treats,” increased pressure on the global food system is a significant reason for the growing interest in insects as sources of proteins.

“The current food system cannot scale to this level of production in the same way it has in the past,” Rudolph said of increasing human and animal populations and their needs.

To feed the billions of pets and people on Earth, the planet’s millions of insect species can offer solutions for feeding dogs, cats and other pets with sustainable proteins and oils, especially the three species described here.