Frequently Asked Questions
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1. What is IPIFF?
IPIFF, the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, is an EU non-profit organisation which represents the interests of the insect production sector towards EU policy makers, European stakeholders & citizens. Composed of more than 30 members, most of which are European insect producing companies, IPIFF promotes the use of insects & insect derived products as top tier source of nutrients for human consumption & animal feed.
2. Who are IPIFF's members?
Most IPIFF members are European SMEs who produce insects for the European market. These operators are either producing insects for animal feed or are active in insect production for food sale.
Most of these actors are start-up companies. Few of them are long- established businesses, who based on their experience in the production of insects (e.g. presence on market segments such as biocontrol, feed for pet food or zoo animals) decided to diversify their production activities toward food production and/feed for farmed animal market.
Furthermore, IPIFF collaborates with recognized universities and/or research institutes as well as with several insect producers established outside Europe: these actors have a status of associated ‘members within the association. Whilst the IPIFF association is governed by insect producers, its membership is opened to all interested operators within the insect value chain, from breeding up to the final selling point. Actors who are not part of the ‘insect value chain’ but who intend to support the association in its objectives and/or activities can be granted a status of ‘observer’.
3. What is IPIFF's mission?
IPIFF main mission is to promote the wider use of insects as an alternative or new source of protein for human consumption & animal feed through continuous dialogue with EU decision makers (i.e. European Commission, EU Member States authorities, European Parliament & European Food Safety Authority). Notably, IPIFF centres its activities around advocating for appropriate EU legislative frameworks to apply to insect production.
The association also supports its members in the effective implementation of EU food & feed safety legislations, such as through the promotion and/or development of shared standards.
4. Why eating insects?
Our planet faces huge challenges because of the growing population and increasing competition for scarce resources.
- Whereas the global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, FAO estimates that the world needs to increase its food production by 70% by that time, mostly to feed such growing population.
- Meat consumption & demand is forecasted to increase by 72% between 2000 & 2030, whilst 60 MT proteins are forecasted to be missing by 2030 in order to meet the expected demand.
- Animal feed production is increasingly competing for resources (land, water & fertilizers) with human food and/or fuel production, which contributes to increase pressure on the environment (e.g. water supply, deforestation or soil decline in producing countries).
IPIFF believes that insects are part of the solution: for IPIFF, insect derived products have the potential to become an important source of protein (both for animal feed & human consumption) in the near future.
- Insects have the potential to become a reliable alternative and/or addition to most common protein sources for aquaculture and livestock.
- Whilst insects are already part of the staple diet of around 2,5 billion people worldwide, IPIFF forecasts that insect proteins will soon become a commonly and widely accepted component of western societies diets, including in Europe.
- In general, insect production presents a much lower environmental impact than livestock producing: insects can be farmed by using less resources (e.g. land, water, feed, energy) whilst having a lower greenhouse gas emissions and generating lower levels of pollutants.
5. What are the benefits of insects for consumers, farmers and manufacturers?
- Insect contain nutrient levels which are particularly pertinent for human consumption (i.e. Proteins levels very high for the vast majority of edible species, high levels of amino acids such as Methionine or Lysine, essential fatty acids such as acid linoleic acid & oleic acid, low levels of unhealthy fat such saturated fat, Fibrer (coming from the exoskeleton)
- Insects are a natural component of the diets of animals such as carnivorous fish, poultry & pigs (e.g. insects can provide up to 70% of the trout diet needs)
- Protein concentration levels in insect proteins intended for animal feed vary between 55% & 75%.
- Feed incorporation rates range between 5 % and 40% for aqua & broilers feed.
- Insect proteins are high in key amino acids, promoting nutrient uptake (e.g. methionine and lysine) and show promising results in terms of growth performance without generating adverse effects on animal health
Environmental and/or sustainability aspects
- On average, insects can convert 2 kg of feed into 1 kg of insect mass, whereas cattle requires 8 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of body weight gain.
- In a context of over exploitation of fish stocks, insect proteins may represent a more sustainable diet for fish: Carnivorous species (e.g. Atlantic salmon, Atlantic cod, Atlantic bluefin tuna and tropical shrimp) rely heavily on ‘reduction fisheries’, i.e. fisheries whose catches of fish and krill are turned into fishmeal and fish oil.
6. Will insects totally replace meat in human diet?
In a context of significant increase of meat demand worldwide, insect & insect derived products have the potential to become an important alternative source of protein for human consumption, and in some cases, a reliable alternative to meat products.
IPIFF does not however forecast insects to totally replace meat in human diets, nor it considers that such development would be desirable: IPIFF indeed acknowledges that diversified eating styles and diets across Europe require the availability of a wide variety of products and ingredients for EU consumers to meet their daily dietary needs.
7. Will insect proteins substitute to soy and/or fishmeal as protein component in farmed animal feed?
IPIFF is convinced that insects may soon constitute a reliable alternative or addition to fishmeal & soy in feed formulae for aquaculture and/or livestock animals. Recent ‘regulatory opportunities’ opened by the EU legislator (i.e. aqua feed authorisation as from 1st July 2017) and possible further relaxation of EU rules in the future (e.g. authorisation of insect proteins for poultry and pig markets) should provide operators with the visibility needed to invest and increase production volumes. Economy of scale generated would then contribute to whittle down (or even absorb) the price gap with major sources of protein for animal feed.
IPIFF does not however consider that the total replacement of major sources such as fishmeal or soy meal is realistic: whilst insects may become a major additional source of protein for species such as pig & poultry animals, it cannot totally substitute to vegetal components of their diet, due to significant differences in terms of nutrient and/or amino acid profile. Instead, alternative vegetal proteins sources (e.g. peas, field peas or lupine) are best suited to replace soy content in the ration of these animals.
Insect nutritional characteristics (e.g. protein content, amino acid profile and/or digestibility levels) are however more comparable to those of fishmeal products, making them a more pertinent substitute in the diet of certain fish species (e.g. trout or Atlantic Salmon) or shellfish (e.g. shrimps).
8. How can insect producers guarantee that their products are safe?
The few available & documented studies on insects show that such animals entail low pathogen risks for food & feed applications : notably, a recent opinion conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (8 October 2015) indicated that ‘insects carry no additional biological or chemical risks compared to other protein sources of animal origin when fed with currently allowed feed materials in the EU’ (i.e. vegetal based substrates, former foodstuffs containing such materials or animal based products such as milk, eggs, honey rendered fats or blood or fishmeal).
Whilst EFSA circumscribed its evaluation to a limited number of insects which were gathered into a ‘positive list’ (i.e. 12 species in total), this opinion however also underlines the importance for producers to comply with adequate production methods and/or hygiene standards as precondition to ensure the safety of insect products placed on the market.
In case you seek more information on IPIFF, our activities and on the benefits of membership, please contact us via phone or email to set up a meeting with the IPIFF team.
9. What is the current ‘state of development’ of the European insect production sector?
All EU producers use exclusively indoor or semi indoor systems, which allows for proper insect growth & development. This intermediary step toward larger scale insect production was accompanied with the recent development of most advanced production techniques – based on modern technologies & of full or semi fully automatized systems.
Owing to the above developments, the European insect industry is today a world leader in terms of innovation & technological advancement. The ability of EU producers to keep this leadership will however mainly depend on whether the ‘conditions of a favourable EU regulatory environment’ can be met in the next few years.
10. What is the ‘economic weight’ of the sector today & forecast its growth in the near future?
Today, total EU production only represents a few thousands of tonnes, whilst investment accounts for a bit more than 100 Million Euros.
Whilst the sector generates today about a few hundred jobs, we expect these figures to increase up to a few thousands by 2025. Indirect jobs may increase up to ten or twenty by that time.
11. Can insects be used for human consumption in Europe?
The production and marketing of insects for human consumption within the EU is governed by the so-called ‘EU Novel Food legislation’. According to this piece of legislation, insect products must receive a European authorisation, based on safety evaluation conducted by the European Food Safety Authority with the view to be legally placed on the EU market. To this end, the insect producing company must submit a comprehensive application dossier. Several IPIFF members are active in the preparation of such applications.
Under the current EU Nove Food Legislation (i.e. Regulation No 258/97), whole insects are however not explicitly regarded as ‘Novel Foods’. The rationale being that the definition of novel food included in the text does only covers “food ingredients isolated from animals” and is therefore applicable to whole animals (e.g. insects). Despite this provision, only a few Member States in Europe have so far formally permitted insects to be used for food consumption.
This situation will however change under the new Novel Food Regulation (i.e. Regulation No 2015/2283) whose scope is defined more broadly covering whole insects and their preparations. The text will enter into force on 1 January 2018. From then, all types and/or forms of insects and products thereof will therefore be subject to pre-market authorisation (see above).
12. Are insect proteins currently authorised for use in farmed animals feed?
No. Two main restrictions currently hinder the use of insect proteins for feed production.
The first one is a prohibition of using certain types of animal protein in feed, commonly referred to as the ‘feed ban’. The feed ban was introduced as a reaction to the Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Europe, and better known as the ‘BSE crisis’, and is laid down in the so called ‘TSE Regulation’ (i.e. Regulation No 999/2001). This ban prohibits the use of animal derived protein to be used in feed for farmed animals.
- The second restriction concerns the possibilities to use certain materials as feed for insects. Insects kept in the EU for production of food, feed or other purposes are considered as ‘farmed animals’ according to EU feed legislation the Animal By-products legislation (i.e. see article 3.5 & 3.6 of Regulation (EC) n°1069/2009), which means that these are governed by the ‘general EU feed rules’: according to this legislation, only products and/or by products of vegetal origin as well as some products and/or by-products of animal origin (e.g. milk and milk derived products) can be used as feed for insects (i.e. the so called ‘feed grade’ substrates). A contrario, insects cannot be fed with feed materials such as slurry or manure, catering waste or former foodstuffs containing meat or fish.
13. Is this EU legislation expected to change in the near future?
Yes. On 24 May 2017, the European Commission formally adopted Regulation (EU) 2017/893, which uplifts the feed ban regarding the use of insect processed animal proteins (PAPs) for aquaculture animals. The adoption and publication of this Regulation intervenes in the wake of the ‘green light’ given by EU Member States who endorsed a European Commission proposal on 13 December 2016.
This authorisation is limited to a list of 7 species (i.e. Black Soldier Fly, Common Housefly, Yellow Mealworm, Lesser Mealworm, House Cricket, Banded Cricket and Field Cricket), which should have been fed with ‘feed grade’ substrates (i.e. vegetal origin materials or with a limited number of animal origin materials, incl. fishmeal, blood products from non-ruminants, egg and eggs products, milk and milk based products, honey, rendered fats). The same rules apply to insect PAPs that are imported from EU third countries.
The Regulation will apply as from 1st July 2017, which means that insect PAPs should be effectively authorized for use in aquaculture animals from that date.
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