Insects: Sustainable/eco-friendly solutions
by Silvia Nogales, HiProMine, Poland
A bio-reactor recycling low energy organic waste into high-quality protein and oil
Insects are not only a natural source of protein and energy to fish, but they also provide minerals, vitamins and active compounds, such as the antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), and the chitin. Chitin and AMPs may act against pathogen bacteria, fungi, and other parasites.
All these factors are already known, but recently they have captured the attention of many researchers. Besides, insects have always been a part of the diet of many wild fish species, especially continental fish. With all this knowledge, a group of researchers from Poznań, Poland, decided to implement the idea of industrially farmed insects to be used in animal nutrition, especially in fish nutrition.
They believe that insects are the "philosopher´s stone" of the 21st century – a natural bioreactor that will turn the organic waste into life-giving proteins, oils and nutraceuticals – the most sought substances in times of the global food deficiency.
Building the foundations
Over millions of years, thousands of insects" species have evolved to serve the sole purpose of processing organic matter and assimilating biogenic elements. It is due to this fact that certain species of insects were carefully selected to undertake a process of "bio-recycling" - to utilise the waste and by-products of the agri-industry, converting them into HiProMine products.
Such is the origin of the "insect business", and the company, named HiProMine, short for "high protein mine", was settled in Robakowo. The first production and selection of over 30 species of insects started in 2015.
In 2016, HiProMine SA won the Deloitte´s 2016 Most Disruptive Innovation Award, as well as the BioForum 2016 contest Master of Innovation. Additionally, it has been participating in different events and fora in order to promote the use of insects in animal nutrition, especially in fish nutrition.
Moreover, this brand-new company is an active member of the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) which on July 1, 2017, got the approval for the use of insect meals in the aquaculture sector in the European Union.
All these successes have been possible because of the strong team of enthusiastic specialists in animal nutrition and aquaculture. The CEO and co-founder of HiProMine, Professor Damian Józefiak, is an expert in Monogastric Animal Nutrition at the Poznań University of Life Sciences. Another member of the team, Professor Jan Mazurkiewicz, is a specialist in Fish Nutrition and Aquaculture.
In addition, the international personnel consists of engineers, entomologists, veterinaries, biologists, and animal nutritionists who concentrate their efforts on improving the mass-production of insects in fully-controlled conditions.
Since the beginning, HiProMine SA has supported the research as a basis for its growth and development. Many trials in fish nutrition have been conducted with the cooperation of the Poznan University of Life Sciences and the Aquaculture Research Centre of Muchocin in Poland, to test the use of some insect meals in rainbow trout, siberiansturgeon, sea trout, and carp, among other species.
Currently, the company is co-operating with the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) of Portugal, as well as with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, testing the use of some insect meals in marine and continental fish nutrition.
The in vivo trials have been conducted to test not only the growth performance and feed efficiency, but also how the insect meals affect the gastrointestinal health of the animals. This has been done through the histological and microbiological analyses of the gastrointestinal tract. Currently, the company is working on several species of insects, most notably the yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor), super mealworm (Zophobasmorio), and black soldier fly (Hermetiaillucens).
Innovative techniques have been used to improve insect nutrition, as well as their reproduction. The company also ensures the biosecurity, which allows for breeding insects free of potential pathogens. Final products, produced from insect biomass, are analysed for presence of different pathogens i.e.Salmonella, but also protein and fat quality, in terms of aminoacids and fatty acids composition.
During rearing, the insects are fed with only vegetable organic-based diets, supplemented with selected vitamins and minerals. The nutritive value of the insect feed is designed to improve final quality of the insect biomass. To ensure that the insects keep their nutritional values constant, the diets are constantly monitored in both the internal, and external laboratories.
Once the larvae have reached their commercial size, they are collected, and processed according to the standards of HiProMine SA, based on research and good manufacturing procedures. At present, our company offers a variety of products manufactured from yellow mealworm and black soldier fly larvae.
As an example, in the full-fat insect meals the content of protein can vary from 39 percent to 55 percent; the values depend on the type of insect meal. In the case of the protein concentrate, it can fluctuate from 58.5 percent to over 70 percent of crude protein.
Insect meals are a rich source of lysine, the content of which can vary from 2.6 percent through 3.4 percent, depending on the type of insect meal, and the type of product. Similar analyses are performed in the case of the lipid content and the type of fatty acids that are present in the insect meals, as well as in the oils.
We believe that global insect production will continue to rise, since they have always been a natural source of protein for many fish species, not only continental, but also marine. Therefore, HiProMine will continue to work on new sustainable insect-based products to offer the alternative nutrient source for feed operators and fish farmers.