The PROteINSECT survey is seeking to understand the level of consumer acceptance for wide scale adoption of insects in feed.
Interest in the use of insects as a source of protein for animals and humans has been growing. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has highlighted the potential benefits of insects as food for animals and humans, to health, the environment and livelihoods around the world.
Protein from insect larvae may be considered an affordable and sustainable option as feed for animals but certain questions need to be addressed first, said project co-ordinator Dr Elaine Fitches.
“There is little point in developing this concept if the public are seriously against the idea and not likely to buy meat or fish fed on insect containing diets,” she said.
Some of the views that the survey is looking at include rating the human health risk of eating such meat as well as the environmental impact of introducing such sources of protein in animal feed. It also asks consumers to what extent their choices for buying meat would be affected by what the animals have been fed on.
Building on a previous project
Last year a similar survey by the project had asked people if they would be accepting of insects in animal feed. In a positive response, over 70% of respondents had said they would eat chicken, fish or pork from animals fed on an insect-based diet.
This year, the project has gone a step further by asking people how much they know about what is in animal feed and how knowledgeable they think they should be. “This should serve as a better measure of current understanding and required/desired understanding,” said Edward Barnes at Minerva Communications, who had helped put the survey together.
The survey will run till the end of summer and will be promoted though the project’s website and social media. Information from the survey will be incorporated as a component of a White Paper for discussion in the EU Parliament, said Dr Fitches.
Demand for meat is growing
As the global demand for meat increases, there is an urgent need to increase supply of protein from sustainable sources, said the project. Currently more than 80% of the protein requirements for livestock rearing in the European Union are imported from non-EU countries.
“The European Parliament has adopted a resolution to address the EU’s protein deficit, stating that urgent action is needed to replace imported protein crops with alternative European sources,” it said.