European insect sector bound for exponential growth following EU decision to greenlight use of insect proteins in poultry and pig feed

EUROPE – The European Union (EU) Commission has adopted the decision to amend the feed ban regulation, allowing the use of processed animal proteins (PAPs) and insects to feed non-ruminant farmed animals such as pigs and poultry.  

According to the commission, the decision was based on the scientific opinion by the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) which showed that certain specific feed ban measures were no longer justified.    

The commission’s decisions follow approval from both the European Parliament and Council as well as the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) in April 2021. 

Stella Kyriakides, EU commissioner for health and food safety, said: “I welcome the announcement, another small step in our journey towards more sustainable feed chain.” 

“This decision continues the long legacy of the European Union’s work to uphold the highest standards in animal nutrition” 

There had been a ban on the use of PAPs in animal diets in the EU since 2001, following the BSE crisis. The ban denied the insect sector access to key markets, curtailing its growth. 

However, the industry entered a new phase of growth in 2013 when the ban on the use of such proteins in fish feed was lifted. 

Poultry and Pig, two of the key markets for the European insect sector, were however out of reach, constraining the growth of the sector. 

Kyriakides now sees the ban lift as another milestone in the Farm to Fork strategy’s ambition towards the use of quality and sustainable feed. 

Insects’ proteins present themselves as sustainable alternatives to conventional feed streams as they have low requirements for land and water and a high conversion efficiency of feed into insect biomass.

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Insect production systems also bring valuable ingredients from organic waste materials from agriculture, food industries and other sectors back into the food chain, further endearing them to environment-conscious farmers and consumers. 

It’s therefore not surprising that many pig and poultry farmers across the European Union have been anxiously waiting for the lifting of the ban on use of insects as feed. 

“Many pig and poultry farmers are looking forward to having access again to [pig and poultry derived] proteins, which are really interesting from a nutritional point of view as PAPs constitute an important source of phosphorus-rich and highly digestible proteins,” said Bruno Menene, policy advisor at EU farming lobby group, Copa and Cogeca. 

Therefore, ‘this legislative reform brings new opportunities for the poultry and pig sectors alike, as insects represent a natural high-quality source of proteins for non-ruminant animals’, explained Christophe Trespeuch, Chair of the IPIFF Working Group on Feed Hygiene and Animal Nutrition. 

The authorization is expected to enter into force later in September, twenty days after the publication in the EU Official Journal. 

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