Profitability of insect farms

Niyonsaba-van den Hoorn, H.H.; Höhler, J.; Kooistra, J.; van der Fels, H.J.; Meuwissen, M.P.M.


Despite growing interest from entrepreneurs, knowledge on the profitability of commercial-scale insect production is scarce. Insight into the economic figures of insect production is needed by farmers aiming to start insect farms, by banks seeking to provide financing, and by governments planning policy interventions. This review provides an overview of the profitability and underlying economic figures relating to the production of Hermetia illucens, Alphitobius diaperinus, Tenebrio molitor and Acheta domesticus. To enhance data interpretation, we also provide a brief overview of the global insect sector, with specific attention to farm-level operational practices. Sales prices refer to fresh larvae, dried larvae or larvae meal, whereas operational costs include costs for feed, labour, electricity, water and gas. Operational cost components differ per insect species, and therefore the relevant margins are specified for three insect species. The energy, feed, and labour margin for production of H. illucens ranges from € -798 to 15,576 per tonne of dried larvae. The feed and labour margin for production of T. molitor ranges from € 7,620 to 13,770 per tonne of fresh larvae. For production of A. domesticus the feed margin ranges from € 12,268 to 78,676 per tonne of larvae meal. The margin range for A. diaperinus cannot be estimated, due to a lack of data in the literature. The ranges mainly reflect the differences in sales prices, which are found to heavily depend on the geographical market location, type of market (feed or food) and quantity sold. Major operational costs include feed and labour, with feed costs varying substantially within and between insect species. The economic figures and margins presented in this article provide a foundation for the further development of the insect production sector.