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Chicken fed with insect oil go on sale in French supermarkets

02 February 20215 min reading

Maye Walraven Head of Business Development InnovaFeed

By placing innovation at the heart of modern food systems and offering its insect-based product SaniNovaTM, InnovaFeed proposes a clear and relatable solution to drive local, sustainable, ethical and high-quality products to the market, in line with customer needs. 

Insect farming has recently gained significant attention, as insects continue to broaden our understanding of natural and sustainable animal feed. Thanks to the collaborative effort of an entire value chain, a new landmark has been achieved: for the first time, consumers can eat chicken whose diets were enriched with insect oil. This is an exciting breakthrough as insect oil products reduce the environmental impact of animal husbandry: InnovaFeed’s insect oil – SaniNovaTM – has indeed an 80% lower carbon footprint than imported soybean oil. The launch of this new insect-fed value chain demonstrates once again the full potential of the insect sector.

Demonstrated zootechnical performance and improved animal welfare

Between March and June, a batch of chicken raised in France received a feed enriched with InnovaFeed’s insect oil, SaniNovaTM. This world premiere confirmed the results of previous trials done by InnovaFeed at a smaller scale. Chicken were raised in Label Rouge conditions (free range, 85 days) with the exception of the insect oil replacing 100% of soy oil in the diet, zootechnical performance was closely monitored during the entire rearing period.

Insects are a natural part of poultry diets, and this reflect in the performance of the animals fed enriched diets. Regarding animal husbandry, insect oil had a positive impact on animal welfare: lower level of stress response behaviour was measured. Chicken were calmer, less afraid of human contact, and pecking between individuals was reduced. All of this combined meant their plumage was considered by farmers more beautiful, softer and fuller.

More generally, poultry demonstrated a strong appetence to the product and positive trend on Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR), allowing a steady weight growth to meet the farmers’ high standards. Chicken fed with insect-enriched feed, also happened to have higher litter quality, making it both drier and more easily crumbled.

Based on these results, a request is in process to include insect oil from black soldier fly larvae in Label Rouge specifications.

Insect oil: a natural and sustainable alternative to vegetable oils

Insect can be bred sustainably, the process being both zero-waste (the insect is used entirely) and circular (insect dejections are used as organic fertilizer for the agricultural by-products that will feed the larvae). Yet, InnovaFeed has developed an even greener process, based on colocalization of its production facility with existing industrial players. The biotech company thus valorises co-products of a local starch manufacturer to feed its larvae, and captures waste energy from a nearby renewable power plant. Thanks to this unique industrial symbiosis model, the company is able to raise its insects (which like warm temperatures) at a very low environmental cost, reducing the CO2 footprint of insect oil by 80% compared to vegetable oils. In the wild, insects make up to 50% of the poultry’s diet, meeting their nutritional needs. Replacing vegetable oil by insect oil in poultry’s diets therefore constitutes both a natural and sustainable choice.

“By upcycling local cereal co-products and repurposing insect waste as an organic fertilizer, InnovaFeed’s products truly have a positive environmental impact,” said Clement Ray, Chief Executive Officer at InnovaFeed. “We’re also able to have a positive impact on climate change by saving 57,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year with each 10,000-ton-production unit by feeding insect meal to animals. That is equivalent to 5800 times the round of the Earth.”

From farm to fork: consumer-driven sustainability

The commercialization of insect-fed chicken, a world premiere, results from the close collaboration of the entire value chain - from farm to fork. Players have combined their know-how and expertise to provide consumers with a natural and sustainable poultry, whose traceability is 100% secured.

Insect-fed chickens answer to customer’s need, as 87% of consumer want to reduce the environmental impact of their food, demonstrated a Kantar consumer survey.

The entire value chain worked together to offer and explain this pioneering product to the end-consumer. The feed formulator NEALIA, an expert in animal nutrition, has developed an innovative recipe in which soybean oil is replaced by insect oil. These free-range chickens were then raised at the farm in Champagne and processed by Les Eleveurs de la Champagne. Finally, Auchan renewed its commitment to sustainable and natural value chains leveraging insects as feed. A successful bet, as they are the first to bring to market these insect-fed chickens. All these players have worked together in order to feed tomorrow’s world.

By highlighting the “insect-based feed” of the products through clear and informative labelling, this value chain approach empowers customers to make an informed decision about the impact that their diets have on the planet. Indeed, the launch of insect-fed poultry has been supported by a strong communication in stores and online, in order to emphasize the insect oil benefits for the consumers: naturality & sustainability. The final result of this operation: a consumer surprised but interested by the product.

It is not the first time that InnovaFeed’s new value chains are highlighted, they had already launched insect-fed trouts in 2018 at Auchan. Today, Auchan has perpetuated this process. The objective for chicken: to convert this new value chain into a sustainable industry by the end of the year.

By placing innovation at the heart of modern food systems and offering its insect-based product SaniNovaTM, InnovaFeed proposes a clear and relatable solution to drive local, sustainable, ethical and high-quality products to the market, in line with customer needs.

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