• Insects as a Food Source – How is the UK involved in this research sector?
    Dr Tiffany Lau with some insects

News & Views

Insects as a Food Source – How is the UK involved in this research sector?

Jan 15 2022

Insects have a big potential as a food source for both people and animals. With a rising global population, the world needs more sources of sustainable food,” Alison Kingston-Smith

Building on research into insects as a source of food for people, scientists at the University of Aberystwyth’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), have turned their attention to the use of insect products in animal feed, following the award of European funding.

As part of the international ValuSect project, aiming to improve the sustainable production and processing of insect-based products, IBERS has extended its research menu of crickets, grasshoppers and yellow mealworms for human consumption, to include the black soldier fly species (Hermetia Illucens) as a potential feed-source for animals.

Environmentally friendly approach

A common feature of people’s everyday diet in countries around the world, including Mexico, China and Ghana, insects offer a more environmentally friendly approach to sustaining future food supplies.

“This grant is an excellent boost for the project. Insects have a big potential as a food source for both people and animals. With a rising global population, the world needs more sources of sustainable food,” said Professor Alison Kingston-Smith, who leads the ValuSect research at the university. “This project is a great chance for the Welsh agriculture and food sector to diversify into new markets. There’s no doubt that insect protein is an increasing focus in the food sector, and our researchers will be part of those exciting developments.”

A partnership coordinated by Thomas More University in Belgium and supported by a €2,08m grant from the INTERREG North-West Europe programme, Aberystwyth University and BIC Innovation, with the support of the Welsh Government, are working with partners from 6 other countries in the North West region of Europe, with the grant extending the network to include  new project partners in Germany.

The research findings, which will focus on the emission of greenhouse gasses, the impact of substrates, food safety and on the shelf life of insect-based food products, will be shared with food and agriculture businesses across northern Europe.

The grant has enabled vouchers worth up to €40,000 for business proposals focused on this industry, for example the optimisation of insect breeding conditions. The global insect feed market was estimated at €133 million in 2020 and is expected to reach €736.7 million by the end of 2026.

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