Not so long ago, a Matís’ cooperative, received world wide attention for his Fly Factory
. But Matís has more people working on the ‘insect thing’
The fact that the global population might reach nine billion by 2050 has been a subject of great discussion. It is believed that in order to feed this increasing number of people, current food production needs to double which is difficult to grasp since pressure on natural resources is already great.
Land resources are already limited, overfishing is common and climate change with its associated complications, such as water shortage, can have serious consequences for food production in the world. We need to find new ways of obtaining nutrition.
Edible insects have been part of nutrition sources for the human race through the ages. Today it is believed that insects are part of the diet of two billion people while in some societies the consumption, and even the existence of insects, is strongly resented. While the majority of edible insects are caught in their habitat, innovative cultivation on a large scale is emerging. It is, however, uncertain how many Westerners will respond to this development, but it is clear that it has to start somewhere and the insects can also be used as a source of nutrition for the production of traditional protein like fish. In 2012 research started at Matis on the use of the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, in order to develop a high-quality feed for aquaculture.
On May 14-17 2014, Matís participated in the international conference Insects to Feed the World in Holland and presented the research on the Black Soldier Fly. One of the goals of the study, related to the project From Green Fields to the Stomach of Fish, was to examine the effect of different organic waste on the nutritional content of the larvae. Amongst other waste, tomatoes, apples and leftovers from the Matís kitchen were tried. Results showed that it is possible to affect the nutritional content of the larvae with different feed and, furthermore, the larvae are very efficient in decomposing the waste and transforming it into high quality protein and fat.
Many interesting findings were presented at the conference and it was surprising to see how much growth is in this sector, mostly in Europe and the United States. Europeans, however, are subject to the restrictions of the EU that ban the production of insect food or feed. These rules are under review. In the United States the production of insect food is permitted if their feed is suitable for human consumption. This has created a market for discarded food, e.g. vegetables that have to be discarded due to defective packaging,. Two large companies in the United States that produce feed for aquaculture presented their activities at the conference. The production is very environmentally friendly compared to e.g. pork or beef production and requires much less water and land use. Part of the fat content of the larvae is extracted and sold to the cosmetics industry and finally the waste from the larvae is sold as high-quality fertilizer. There is therefore considerable potential in future breeding of insects.
Further information will be provided by Birgir Örn Smárason, Ph.D. student at Matís.