FAQs

Why eat insects now?
Is insect consumption good for humans?
How are insects eaten?
What is the recommended consumption ratio for insects?
Will insects replace meat in the human diet?
Will insect proteins substitute to soy and/or fishmeal as protein component in farmed animal feed?
How can insect producers guarantee that their products are safe?
What is the current ‘state of development’ of the European insect production sector?
What is the ‘economic weight’ of the sector today & its forecasted growth in the next few years?

Why eat insects now?

Insects are known to be a sustainable and nutritious alternative, but why should we eat them now, straying away from the ‘traditional sources’ of food?

The introduction of insects in our diet could be a nutritious solution for those seeking to substitute other animal-based sources of protein. The intention is not to replace meat with insect products completely, but to integrate them into our day-to-day dietary habits. Not only would insect-based products prevent nutrient deficiency, but would also positively contribute to a healthy, balanced diet.

Is insect consumption good for humans?

Insects have a high potential to improve the nutritional quality of diets in populations at risk of malnutrition, either consumed whole as in traditional diets or as ingredients in processed foods. Insect products are also selectively promoting the growth of beneficial bacterial species in the gut microbiota.

The potential of insects as ingredients in processed foods is very high. A study in Kenya showed that adding 10% powdered cricket to a biscuit enhanced its nutritional quality similarly to adding milk powder, making the biscuit suitable for school feeding programs. The extraction of functional ingredients from insects is also viewed as highly promising and its nutritional potential should be further assessed. In short, insects are packed with proteins and essential amino acids, good fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals, providing a boost to your diet.

How are insects eaten?

Generally, insects are boiled, fried, dried or smoked. From a food safety point of view, it is advisable not to eat insects raw.

Once cooked, they are processed into powders or other compatible forms. The advantage of having insect flour is its versatility – it can be integrated into various products such as pasta, bread, cookies, chocolate, protein, bars, etc. Furthermore, infusions in alcohol are also very popular.

What is the recommended consumption ratio for insects?

Given the diversity of species and processing methods, the recommended daily intake is product specific. It is important to keep in mind the recommended daily protein intake, as well as the particular dietary reference intakes (DRI), depending on someone’s individual needs (e.g. according to the European Commission, “the recommended amount of protein ranges from 0.80 to 0.83 g per kilogram of body weight for both men and women with modest levels of physical activity.”)

Will insects replace meat in the human diet?

In a context of significant increase of meat demand worldwide, insect and insect-derived products have the potential to become a reliable alternative to meat products.

IPIFF does not, however, forecast that insects will 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.

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 and 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. The 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 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).

How can insect producers guarantee that their products are safe?

The few available and 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) 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.

What is the current ‘state of development’ of the European insect production sector?

European producers use exclusively indoor or semi-indoor systems, which allow for proper insect growth and development. Producers have also recently developed advanced production techniques – based on modern technologies and of full or semi fully automatized systems.

The European insect industry is today a world leader in terms of innovation and technological advancement. The ability of EU producers to keep this leadership will, however, depend mainly on whether the ‘conditions of a favourable EU regulatory environment’ can be met in the next few years.

What is the ‘economic weight’ of the sector today & its forecasted growth in the next few years?

Today, total EU production only represents a few thousands tonnes, whilst investment accounts are more than 250 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.

Can’t find the answer to your question? Please send us an e-mail at info@ipiff.org

Menu