Insects as a protein source is not as crazy as you may think as it is estimated that more than 2 billion people worldwide eat insects every day. For many people it is the only available meat meal rich in protein, sugars and vitamins. Ants, bugs, grasshoppers and butterfly larvae are eaten in Asia, Africa and South America. This month I took the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.
Yes, I ate insects, black solder larvae to be precise. They had the texture of cereal as they had been dried and while they didn’t taste bad they would be improved with a little chilli or salt. I was also able to see how the insects are being farmed and discuss the current barriers and challenges that these insect farmers are facing. This is the second time I have visited an insect farm and both times I have marvelled at the science involved and the ability of the insect larvae to turn waste into valuable protein.
However, I would like to highlight that while this is exciting there are also some challenges that need to be considered before insects become a sustainable protein source for poultry. The first and most crucial is the need to upscale. Given the short life cycle of insects this is achievable, but this will need to be done using automation and controlled systems to alleviate the current labour-intensive systems. In addition, consumer perceptions and expectations together with regulatory challenges will need to be addressed to ensure that this industry is viable. None the less I am excited to see how this industry develops over the coming years and hope that it will have a positive impact on the poultry industry.