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Published on September 24, 2020 4:00 am by Alice Hancock

Here are the key extracts that refer to Better Origin: 

Christophe Derrien, secretary-general of the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), a trade body, says the next three to five years will be “a turning point”. Nine million Europeans tried eating insect products in 2019, IPIFF data suggests, a number it forecasts will rise sharply by 2030. The biggest companies in the market — still small by industrial agriculture standards — are ramping up.

And technologies are becoming more sophisticated. These include modules for housing insects that have high levels of automated control — insects tend to be very specific about the temperatures they prefer. Insect producer Better Origin’s X1 “mini-farm” unit uses AI to clean and convert waste from chickens into insect feed and to monitor the health of insects through their lifecycle before processing those bugs to go back into chicken feed.

While it might take consumers a while to get their heads around the idea of swallowing grasshopper legs, Stenning and others say that insects have even greater potential as animal feed.

Larger consumer companies have already shown an interest. Nando’s, the chicken restaurant chain, said last month that it was funding research into insects and algae as chicken feed in order to reduce its reliance on soy, the second biggest contributor to global deforestation after beef.

Keiran Whitaker, Entocycle’s founder, describes this as “catering to the transition period”. “I built Entocycle to feed humans,” he says. But a “certain view in the western world about eating insects” means Entocycle has for now focused on feeding animals instead.

Both Entocycle and rival insect farming company Better Origin use black soldier fly larvae, which Miha Pipan, Better Origin’s co-founder, describes as “the pig of the insect industry”. Like pigs, “they will eat anything and they have a very fast growth cycle”, he says.

Derrien says getting insects into animal feed is the IPIFF’s major focus. This is thanks to growing concerns about Europe’s lack of food security, which risks price swings and shortages, not to mention viruses reaching animals and humans from imported food. According to European Commission estimates, more than 90 per cent of the EU’s soy supply is imported.

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