The Potential Role of Insects as Feed: A Multi-Perspective Review
Department of Food and Drug, University of Parma, 43124 Parma, Italy
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Department of Political Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80138 Naples, Italy
Department of Agricultural, Forest, and Food Sciences, University of Turin, Grugliasco, 10124 Torino, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(4), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040119
Received: 7 March 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 27 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects: Alternative Protein Source for Animal Feed)
The consumption of meat and fish is growing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the growing demand for protein by farming on land and in water, causing serious repercussions for the planet’s resources, socio-economic development, and environmental sustainability. The search for new food solutions with good nutritional value for direct and indirect human consumption is of fundamental importance. The use of insects for feeding farmed animals represents a promising alternative because of the nutritional properties of insects and the possible environmental benefits, given the sustainability of this type of farming. Yet, there is a lack of consensus among western consumers. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to report and discuss previous consumer and stakeholder studies related to insects as feed, including the main market challenges for this novel source. The results show that, despite a sparse body of research, consumer acceptance will not be a barrier towards the development of the insect protein industry for feed. However, further research should shed light on consumer willingness to pay for animal products from animals fed with insects and whether the overall acceptability, in general and from a sensory point of view, will be perceived better than conventional products.
Recently, insects have received increased attention as an important source of sustainable raw materials for animal feed, especially in fish, poultry, and swine. In particular, the most promising species are represented by the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens, HI), the yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor, TM), and the common house fly (Musca domestica, MD). Although rapid development is expected, insects remain underutilized in the animal feed industry mainly due to technical, financial, and regulatory barriers. In addition, few works have analyzed consumer and stakeholder points of view towards the use of insects as animal feed. In this article, we summarize the main findings of this body of research and provide a discussion of consumer studies regarding the consumption of animals fed with insects. Our review suggests that consumer acceptance will not be a barrier towards the development of this novel protein industry. Furthermore, we conclude that it will be of interest to understand whether the use of this more sustainable feed source might increase consumer willingness to pay for animal products fed with insects and whether the overall acceptability, from a sensory point of view, will be perceived better than conventional products. Finally, the main challenges of the feed farming industry are addressed.