Yellow Mealworm and Black Soldier Fly Larvae for Feed and Food Production in Europe, with Emphasis on Iceland

Foods. 2021 Nov 9;10(11):2744. doi: 10.3390/foods10112744.


Insects are part of the diet of over 2 billion people worldwide; however, insects have not been popular in Europe, neither as food nor as a feed ingredient. This has been changing in recent years, due to increased knowledge regarding the nutritional benefits, the need for novel protein production and the low environmental impact of insects compared to conventional protein production. The purpose of this study is to give an overview of the most popular insects farmed in Europe, yellow mealworm, Tenebrio molitor, and black soldier fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens, together with the main obstacles and risks. A comprehensive literature study was carried out and 27 insect farming companies found listed in Europe were contacted directly. The results show that the insect farming industry is increasing in Europe, and the success of the frontrunners is based on large investments in technology, automation and economy of scale. The interest of venture capital firms is noticeable, covering 90% of the investment costs in some cases. It is concluded that insect farming in Europe is likely to expand rapidly in the coming years, offering new proteins and other valuable products, not only as a feed ingredient, but also for human consumption. European regulations have additionally been rapidly changing, with more freedom towards insects as food and feed. There is an increased knowledge regarding safety concerns of edible insects, and the results indicate that edible insects pose a smaller risk for zoonotic diseases than livestock. However, knowledge regarding risk posed by edible insects is still lacking, but food and feed safety is essential to put products on the European market.

Keywords: Europe; Iceland; black soldier fly larvae; feed; food; insect farming; mealworm; novel protein.