Dutch consortium evaluates insect-derived ingredients for use in broiler feed

The consortium, which Protix announced this week at VIV Europe 2022 in the Netherlands, involves this insect ingredient producer, as well as animal feed manufacturer, ForFarmers, the Dutch poultry processing entity of the PHW group, Esbro, the Dutch organization of insect growers, Venik and Wageningen. Livestock Research (WUR).

The partners will investigate how ingredients derived from black soldier fly (BSF) in feed will impact sustainability, health and welfare parameters of slow-growing broiler chickens.

Although the European Commission approved the use of insect meal in poultry and pig feed in September 2021, more information is still needed on the benefits of these ingredients for birds and how the he use of these components can impact the sustainability of the entire poultry value chain, the associates said.

Leon Luyben, Business Development Manager at Protix, speaking to this publication at the Utrecht-based event, said collaboration across the poultry industry can help break down the friction points that usually exist in supply chains. “The livestock industry is quite traditional, with chain partners usually only working with the next step in the chain​.”

It is now recognized that to achieve ambitious and sustainable innovation goals, the supply chain must adapt, it must do things differently, he continued.

Michel van Spankeren, another business development manager at Protix, echoing these comments, noted that sustainability is not just a challenge for one part of the chain. “Sustainability is a challenge for every business today. But if we don’t communicate all the way down the chain, if we don’t even sit together at the same table, it will be difficult for a supply chain partner to understand what a two-tier business in the chain requires. It’s about having two-way conversations about where improvements can be made, about how we can all move together in the right direction.

Scientific data

The consortium defends a scientific approach to research, which includes three phases: A pilot study has just started. It aims to study the effects of different levels of inclusion of ingredients derived from BSF larvae in poultry feed. Based on the results of this pilot project, different broiler diets will be tested on a larger scale in chicken farms. In the third phase, BSF products in broiler diets in combination with other alternative protein sources grown in the region will be evaluated.

WUR will lead the research. ForFarmers will recruit poultry farms to carry out these trials, focusing on operations open to innovation: “The knife must cut in both directions,” Luyben said.

Production parameters that the team will assess include animal growth performance, while the impact of BSF meal and lipids on meat quality and taste are some of the other criteria to be assessed in the trial work, taking into account the interests of different parts of the poultry production chain, Protix representatives said.

“Poultry processors do business with many retailers, and they are watched by NGOs: they have to make sure the science is correct so they can make claims based on the inclusion of insect ingredients in Food for animals”, noted Luyben.

The consortium hopes to publish the results of its research at regular intervals over the next two years.

All partners will be involved in developing the concept of the final poultry product and will also collaborate on how to ensure effective communication around the sustainability aspects of broiler feed enriched with insect ingredients, van Spankeren added. .

Circular farming

In a public-private partnership (PPP) in the Netherlands, all partners mobilize an amount of funding, with the state also providing financial support for the project.

The entities involved highlighted how this PPP supports the Dutch national knowledge and innovation agenda and the national protein strategy as well as the European Commission’s F2F strategy – promoting a circular agri-food system with the use of sustainable and local ingredients, with the aim of contributing to a reduction in EU livestock dependence on protein imports from deforestation hotspots.

Marcus Keitzer, Board Member of PHW Group, said:The continued identification and scientific evaluation of innovative alternatives to conventional poultry feed ingredients are important parts of our sustainability strategy. Therefore, we aim to investigate the specific impact of including insect-derived feed components in poultry diets in slow-growing broiler chicken from different angles. This PPP allows us to do this jointly with some of the most renowned institutions in the insect and agricultural sector in Europe.

“The growing global demand for animal protein calls for innovative and sustainable solutions for food and livestock. Insect protein could play an important role as an alternative and sustainable protein source in animal feed,”remarked Joost Sparla, Marketing Director, Poultry, ForFarmers.