Insects are attracting increased attention in western countries as a protein source for feed and food industries. Currently, insect farmers use high-quality (cereal-based) diets. Part of the ingredients in these diets can also be used directly in food applications. To avoid competition and improve the sustainable and economical aspect of insect rearing, a search for alternative insect diets is ongoing. Side-streams from the agri-food sector offer potential. The lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus
) is an insect that is commercially reared on large scale for food application. The current paper reports on six agri-food side-streams that were included in the diet of the lesser mealworm. The impact of 29 diets (single side-streams or mixtures) on the larvae growth was evaluated by monitoring the larval yield, efficiency of conversion of ingested feed, and larval weight. The larvae were able to grow on all diets, but differences in growth were observed. Two side-streams, wheat middlings and rapeseed meal, were proven to support good larval performance when used as a single ingredient. A combination of these two with brewery grains as moisture source provided (1) the best larval growth and (2) the most economically profitable diet. In conclusion, this study illustrates successful rearing of the lesser mealworm on side-stream-based diets.
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