"Insect derived products can be used in nutritional and functional feed applications at competitive prices, whilst complying with the highest EU standards in terms of food and feed safety” Tarique Arsiwalla - IPIFF Vice-President


The challenge

Global population growth and increased welfare levels have led to a fast increase in demand for high quality foods. The FAO estimates that “global meat demand in 2030 will stand at 72% above the 2000 value”[1] whilst the aquaculture market is expected to grow 50% between 2010 and 2030.[2] The result is a big rise in demand for protein-rich feed.

To feed farm animals, the EU currently imports 40 million tonnes of crop proteins, primarily soya, each year. Given the price volatility of soybean meal the economic viability of the EU livestock sector is at risk. The same holds true for the aquaculture market, where the price of fishmeal, its main feed ingredient, has risen fourfold over the past decade.[3] There is thus an urgent need for an alternative source of proteins in feed, as well as for a meat-replacing food product. Insects offer a sustainable solution answering to both needs.

Is insect consumption authorised in Europe?

Insects as food
The production and marketing of insects for human consumption is governed by the so-called ‘EU Novel Food legislation’ . According to this new legislation, insect products will have to receive a European authorisation, based on a safety evaluation conducted by the European Food Safety Authority before being placed on the EU market. To this end, the insect producing company must submit a comprehensive application dossier.

Recently, the European Commission published a ‘package’ of proposals setting out the detailed requirements for the EU ‘novel food’ legislation. This move came after the European Council and the Parliament adopted, in November 2015, a new EU Regulation - i.e. Regulation 2015/2283 - reviewing the current EU legislation on ‘novel foods’ . The European legislator empowered the European Commission to define the technical rules of this new EU law, prior to its application as from 1 January 2018: these concern the content and format of applications for authorisation, which insect producers have to submit to the European Commission, in view of authorising their products as food on the European market. 
Download our position paper on food.

Insects as feed
IPIFF believes that insects will soon constitute a reliable alternative or addition to fishmeal feed formulae for aquaculture. However, the EU ‘feed ban rules’ contained in the so called ‘TSE Regulation’ (i.e. Article 7 and Annex IV of Regulation 999/2001) so far prohibited the use of animal derived protein to be used in feed for farmed animals, including for fish.

Recently, the European Commission recently adopted a Regulation amending the TSE Regulation: Regulation (EU) N° 2017/893 partially uplifts the feed ban rules regarding the use of insect processed animal proteins (PAPs) for aquaculture animals. This new EU legislation was adopted on 24 May 2017 and the authorisation is officially applicable since 1st July 2017.

The abovementioned reform was accompanied with the recent adoption of another piece of legislation – i.e. Regulation (EU) No 2017/1017 which amended Regulation 68/2013 on the EU Catalogue of feed materials. This Catalogue, introduces revised descriptions explicitly referring to processed animal proteins and fats from insects. Furthermore, the text requires operators to indicate on the label the name of the animal species as well as its life stage. Feed business operators shall adapt their labels to these new labelling requirements before 11 January 2018.



Is the EU legislation expected to change in the near future?

The answer is yes. On 15 November 2016, the European Commission published a draft amendment to the TSE Regulation which aims to
partially uplift the feed ban regarding the use of insect processed animal proteins (PAPs) for aquaculture animals. 

This draft amendment was voted & endorsed by a ‘qualified majority’ of EU Member States in December 2016. The text is now expected to be
officially adopted in May or June 2017, prior to its official application as from 1st July 2017. The authorisation is however limited to the seven following species: black soldier fly, house fly, yellow mealworm, buffalo worm, house cricket, banded cricket and field cricket. Likewise other farmed animals, these species may only be fed with ‘authorized substrates’. The same rules apply to insect PAPs that are imported from EU third countries.



IPIFF views on ongoing EU legislative developments

IPIFF welcomes the aqua feed authorisation IPIFF is convinced that insects will soon constitute a reliable alternative or addition to fishmeal in feed formulae for aquaculture. Insect nutritional characteristics, like protein content, amino acid profile and/or digestibility levels, are indeed comparable to those of fishmeal products, making them a viable substitute in the diet of certain fish species (e.g. trout or Atlantic salmon) or shellfish (e.g. shrimps).

In a context of increasing EU dependency on protein imports for animal feed use, the IPIFF members are also convinced that insects will
constitute a considerable alternative or addition in feed formula for poultry and pig species. Pending the availability of validated analytical
/detection methods, IPIFF pleads for a new ‘relaxation’ of the EU feed ban rules so as to authorise the use of insect PAPs in feed for
other non-ruminant livestock animals (pigs and poultry).

Against this background, IPIFF supports the mandating of the European Food Safety Authority to deliver fully documented conclusions on the potential risks associated with the use of such materials as feed for insects.

Since insects were not widely consumed in the EU before March 1997, insect-based foods are considered ‘Novel Foods’. As such they fall under Regulation 2015/2283 and require authorisation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) before being placed on the EU market. The details of this regulation, such as the exact scientific requirements applications need to fulfil, are still being determined.

IPIFF considers that the establishment of harmonized rules for the marketing of insect products is a ‘step in the right direction’: while insects have the potential to become a major source of protein in Europe, insect producers primarily rely on a ‘solid’ & ‘stable’ EU regulatory framework to plan their investment & marketing activities throughout the continent. IPIFF emphasises, however, the importance for EU authorities to establish ‘workable’ rules & to provide guidance at implementation stage. These principles, along with appropriate transitional measures, are notably relevant to facilitate the uptake of this new legislation by the insect producers.

[1] UNESCO (Kanaly et al.), 2010, Energy flow, environment and ethical implications for meat production [link here]

[2] World Bank, 2013, Fish to 2030, prospects for fisheries and aquaculture (p. 39) [link here]

[3] Financial Times, 2014, Price of fishmeal tips scales against diners [link here]