Asia to lead in insect production

Southeast Asia has become the leading region for insect production intended for feed. This surge is attributed to favorable climate conditions and lower labor costs. AFFIA (Asian Food and Feed Insect Association) recently discussed the current state of insect production in Asia and provided insights into what can be expected from the upcoming 2024 Insect to Feed the World conference.

Why insect-based feed?

The Asian Food and Feed Insect Association (AFFIA) consists of members from several countries, with Malaysia contributing 11 members, Thailand 10, Indonesia 9, Singapore 6, and other countries 4. Currently, 90% of farmed insects for feed applications involve the black soldier fly. Historically, Thailand has been a major player in insect farming, primarily crickets, which explains its prominence in the industry. While Singapore hosts many company headquarters, high operational costs limit the amount of insect production on the island.

The market for insect protein in Asia has an estimated potential size of 19.3 million tonnes. In the feed industry, insect-derived products serve as protein-rich components for feeds intended for poultry, swine, and aquaculture. “The driver here are different, often related to the nutritional benefits (e.g. functional benefits like enhanced immunity and absorption of black soldier fly protein) and the need to replace traditional protein sources like fishmeal and soybean meal”, said Cody Lee, secretary general at AFFIA

“The potential for insect meal here is enormous due to the need to replace fishmeal and support the sustainability of aquaculture. However, the uptake is dependent on regulatory approvals and the scaling of insect production to meet large volume demands of aquafeed manufacturers at competitive prices frequently benchmarked against fishmeal. It is noteworthy that quite a number of AFFIA’s members have formulated or started producing small amounts of aquafeed and multiple companies’ research has shown good results. However, many are unable to enter this segment due to the inability to produce in a volume and price acceptable to aquafeed manufacturers”, Lee explained.

Same quality with EU’s

One of the significant advancements for Asian insect producers in recent months has been the EU’s approval for imports of insect-based products from Asia. According to AFFIA, this development brings a range of benefits.

Nick Piggott, AFFIA president, said that Asian products exported to Europe undergo inspections with the same level of rigor as European producers. This ensures that buyers receive identical quality and safety standards from Asian products as they do from European ones. Additionally, because the insects are tropical, Asian producers can save money on energy-intensive heating, lighting, and climate control compared to Europe. The raw materials used also differ, suggesting that the sustainability of insect products produced in Asia is likely superior to those produced in Europe. Consequently, for buyers truly focused on sustainability, Asian products can significantly outperform locally produced European materials.

Asian countries have generally adopted a much more pragmatic approach to feed substrates compared to European regulators. This is partly due to the EU ban on the use of animal proteins in feed following the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy crisis in the 1990s.

Breeding efficiencies are generally not a problem for Asian producers. Therefore, most improvements in this region are likely to focus on breeding and feeding practices. A clear understanding of insect nutritional requirements is emerging as a significant differentiator in this regard.

The 2024 Insect to Feed the World

AFFIA is proud to host the 2024 Insect to Feed the World (IFW) conference, a prestigious event organized every two years by different entities. Selected as the host for the 2024 edition, AFFIA is gearing up for an extraordinary gathering. Scheduled to take place from June 19-22 in Singapore, this marks the 5th iteration of IFW.

IFW is the premier conference for the Insects as Feed and Food sector, attracting researchers and industry professionals from across the globe. The event serves as a platform for exchanging ideas and showcasing the latest advancements in the field of insects for feed and food.

The conference will feature an integrated exhibition, three days of parallel sessions, and various networking events. Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour Singapore’s world-class research facilities, enhancing their conference experience and fostering collaboration within the industry.

Aquafeed companies are welcome to joint the forum to gain valuable insights into the latest trends and developments in insect feed. This includes learning how insect feed can enhance the nutritional quality of aquafeed, establishing strategic partnerships with insect protein suppliers and other stakeholders, staying informed about regulatory changes concerning insect-based ingredients, and committing to sustainability and responsible sourcing practices.

By joining the forum, aquafeed companies can also gain insights into consumer preferences and market demands for sustainable aquafeed. They can explore opportunities for innovation in aquafeed product development and understand the cost benefits and economic impacts of incorporating insect protein into their formulations.


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