If this is the first time you’re reading about insect-based insect pet-food, welcome to a new age of protein. A few years back, just before the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives, insect protein started becoming popular in the pet food industry. For generations prior, and for many around the world, insects have made up a notable part of a day-to-day diet, in some cases, even a food stall delicacy.
The pet food industry is now a $30 billion-dollar industry in the United States, and a very large portion of that is spent on meat-based pet foods. Equal parts environmentally sustainable and nutritionally rich, demand for insect-based pet food is growing exponentially and related products are seemingly springing up everywhere.
In this article, we'll take a look at why insect-based pet food is all the rage and hopefully help you understand if feeding your pet with this protein is right for you.
Insect-based protein improves sustainability
While many people think of insects as pests, they play an incredibly crucial role in our ecosystem. Insects help keep our soil healthy, they control weeds, recycle nutrients, and even act as natural fertilizers. When it comes to supply chain sustainability, insects are an option because they don't require as much space, water, and maintenance.
With the world's population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the demand for food is expected to increase by 70% over that time. The traditional way of producing meat puts considerable and at times controversial strain on the environment. It requires large areas of land, feed, water, and energy. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the meat that is used to produce pet food accounts for a portion of that.
Whereas, insects are a more sustainable source of protein than traditional livestock as they emit fewer greenhouse gases. One study found that when comparing beef production to cricket production, crickets emitted 80% less methane. They can be fed food waste and require less land, water, and feed.
Insects are also efficient for farming. They have a shorter life cycle than livestock, like cows, sheep, and chickens. This means that they can be raised and harvested more frequently using less energy and resources.
If the trend for insect-based pet food continues, it could have a significant impact on reducing the environmental footprint of the pet food industry.
Nutritional value of insect-based pet food
Insects are not only a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of protein for pets. They are also a nutritious and healthy option.
The nutritional value of insects varies depending on species and diet. Some insects contain high amounts of protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. In fact, insects are one of the most nutritionally dense foods out there. For example, crickets are about 65% protein, while mealworms are around 50%. Mealworms are also rich in iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and riboflavin.
When it comes to pet food, the insects used are usually mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, and crickets. These insects are ground up and used as a protein powder or an ingredient in pet food.
Would insect protein be the future of pet food?
Many companies are already selling insect-based products for pets. These include dry and wet food, and treats. While these aren't necessarily considered traditional pet food, they could become part of the equation down the road. As demand grows, more manufacturers will likely start producing pet food containing insect proteins.
Canadian-made insect-based pet food
As the trend for insect-based pet food grows, more companies are starting to produce these products. In Canada, there are two companies that stand out: Open Farm and First Mate.
First Mate is another company that makes insect-based pet food and is our number one selling supplier. They are also based locally in North Vancouver and are a manufacturer in the Lower Mainland, along with being family owned. Their KASIKS Fraser Valley Grub Formula for dogs or cats is wet food made with soldier fly larvae and wild coho salmon. It's a complete and balanced meal with high protein and grain-free food for all life stages.
Both of these companies are setting the standards for sustainable and environmentally friendly pet food. As the trend for insect-based pet food grows, we can expect to see more products on the market from these and other companies.
Insect-based pet food is a sustainable and environmentally friendly option. It might not be for everyone, but as awareness grows about the sustainability and environmental benefits of these products, they are likely to become more popular.
What do you think about insect-based pet food? Would you try it for your pet?
Let us know in the comments!
What's insect-based pet food?
Insect-based pet food is made with insects as a protein source instead of livestock. This can include mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, crickets, and more.
Why do we feed our pets insects as a source of protein?
There are many reasons to feed pets insects as a source of protein. Insects are environmentally friendly, sustainable and nutritious.
How do I know if an insect-based pet food is right for my pet?
The best way to know if an insect-based pet food is right for your pet is to do your own research and speak with an animal nutritionist. They can help you determine if this is a good option for your pet based on their individual needs.