Insect protein in pet food “an exciting opportunity”
The BVA president has described the use of insect-based protein in pet food as an “exciting opportunity”, to serve pets’ nutritional needs whilst reducing our impact on the environment.
In recent years, amid growing concerns over the cost of meat production on the environment, the possibility of using insects as food has become more mainstream.
It is estimated that meat consumption will double by 2050, prompting significant concerns about feeding a growing population and the cost the environment. Insect farming carries a smaller environmental footprint, uses less resources and space and can produce high quality protein.
In a new position, the BVA recognised the potential for insect protein to help address the rising need for sustainable animal feed.
“The most important thing when feeding our pets is to give them a nutritionally balanced diet,” commented president Simon Doherty. “With everyone thinking about what part they can play in protecting the planet, the use of insect based protein offers an exciting opportunity to still serve pets’ nutritional needs whilst potentially having a lower environmental impact.
“We are not saying that it should necessarily replace feeding cats and dogs meat altogether, but it gives us another option in the formulation of pet food. It is important to look outside of the tin and we welcome further research and understanding in relation to insect farming and the role that insect products can play in animal nutrition.”
According to a BVA blog this week, recent research suggests there is an increasing ‘humanisation’ of pet food, with owners desiring high grade meat and raw meat for their pets, which could create sustainability concerns.
Currently pet food is generally comprised of by-products of meat and fish produced for humans and, as such, it could be considered part of waste reduction. But with a growing demand for ‘higher quality’ feed there could be competition with the human food chain.
While insects could one day offer another option for pet feed, research by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) suggests that 36 per cent of consumers would not be at all happy to feed pet food containing insect powder.
The BVA said it welcomes further research on the benefit of insects as a source of food for pets, and recommends that the veterinary profession develop their understanding and expertise on insect rearing, health and welfare and food safety.