Three years ago US company Cargill and French biotech InnovaFeed began a partnership which aims to scale up the use of insect ingredients in animal feed. Whilst their initial collaboration focused on aqua-nutrition the relationship has now expanded to include farm animals – starting with the use of oil derived from insects in pig feed.
To evaluate this novel feed ingredient, Cargill and InnovaFeed conducted numerous feed trials in pig diets, comparing the impact of different oil sources. They found the nutritional profile of insect oil fits well with pig requirements, making it possible to supplement or even replace vegetable oil without any negative effects on animal growth.
Animal feed sustainability and CO2 reduction
Beyond its nutritional value in animal feed, insect oil offers substantial environmental benefits. As an alternative to traditional vegetable oils, InnovaFeed claims that the insect fatty acids it produces provide a significant reduction of carbon footprint – by at least 80% compared to vegetable oils generally present in pig feed¹ – with no impact on deforestation.
InnovaFeed’s circular economy approach brings added environmental benefits as the company upcycles co-products from the agriculture production of starch to feed black soldier fly larvae. Once the larvae reach a certain stage, protein and oil are extracted for use in animal and fish feed.
“Turning sustainability into a competitive argument rather than a cost, our unique circular model allows us to produce high-quality insect proteins and oils on a large scale, combining performance with minimal impact on the planet,” said Maye Walraven, Head of Business Development at InnovaFeed.
Cargill and InnovaFeed – an expanded partnership
The expanded partnership of Cargill and Innovafeed has the potential to benefit more than 20 million piglets’ diet by 2026 and demonstrates the strategic role the insect industry can play in transforming the global food model towards a more sustainable feed industry.
The collaboration leverages InnovaFeed’s expertise in producing premium insect ingredients and Cargill’s extensive animal nutrition acumen. It also enables InnovaFeed to demonstrate the full potential of its insect-based products for animal feed.
“Our analyses convinced us that InnovaFeed has the best products on the market, not only for its quality and performance but also thanks to InnovaFeed’s ability to deploy on a large scale” said Helene Ziv, group leader of Cargill’s aqua nutrition business.
“Our customers are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their feeds in response to increased pressure on natural resources and the demands of end consumers,” said Delphine Melchior, Sustainability and Quality sector director for Cargill’s aqua and animal nutrition business. “We share that commitment to a more sustainable future. A first step was bringing InnovaFeed insect protein to fish farming. With the introduction of insect oil, we continue our journey, increasing our positive impact on animal production.”
“Our cooperation with a player like Cargill who has laid out ambitious sustainability goals is the best proof of the environmental and nutritional benefits of our products and highlights that insect nutrients are a promising solution capable of reconciling performance and sustainability.” concluded Walraven.
¹ Life Cycle Analysis realized by Quantis for InnovaFeed insect oil, February 2020