Trends towards 2050 predict an increased demand for animal-derived protein sources for human foods (and indirectly, therefore, animal feeds) due to the combined effects of human population increase and increasing standards of living in countries with emerging economies. The fast increase of the global population and the increasing demand for food and proteins in particular requires minimizing wastes and optimizing resource use in a circular biobased economy and is the main driver of the current Program. According to expectations the demand for meat and fish will double next 10 years.
It is questioned whether the capacity of planet earth is sufficient to fulfil the increasing demand for proteins in a sustainable way. Insects can accomplish an important role to convert (residual) biomass into high quality proteins. Feed efficiency of insects is high which means that biomass can be converted efficiently. Insects can be fed with organic waste and can upgrade organic waste to high quality insect products which can be used as human foods, fed to animals directly, used to design functional ingredients or can be subjected to bio-refinery to gain additional value. Pre-requisite for such applications is the safety of the products. The Program exists of two main themes: Bio-conversion, Processing and Consumer acceptance of insect products. In the Program insight will be obtained on the availability, properties and (socio-economic) suitability of bio-resources for use as substrate for insect rearing for the production of insect products directly used as a food, ingredient in food or animal feed, to gain additional value.
Biological expertise will be used in the Program and further developed with respect to processes for conversion of bio-resources into high quality animal products. This expertise also contributes to the development of interesting high value by-products for non-food, bio-based material and bio-active compounds such as chitin. New innovative processing techniques in Bio-conversion, Processing, and production techniques will be further developed to develop protein having specific technological and nutritional qualities. We aim at a new generation of insect-derived products in co-creation with the stakeholders that meet needs and wants of consumers conceptually and in pricing.
Internationally but also nationally, expertise in the field of insect rearing is fragmented, however, NL (and WUR) has already a recognized leadership. To improve resource use efficiency by use of insects, a network within WUR will be installed to accelerate integrated expertise development and enhance multi-stakeholder approaches. Internationally, WUR is initiating a European industry-science network via a so-called COST-action. The aim of this COST-action is to develop and share knowledge with respect to insect rearing and the use of insect products as sustainable and safe ingredients for animal feed.