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Black Soldier Fly Market Applications


Key Insights

  • The Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) industry is a fast-growing market, predicted to be worth almost $50bn by 2029.

  • BSFL can be used for a multitude of different purposes, from livestock, Fish and Pet feed to cosmetics.

  • Widespread use of BSFL in livestock feed is heavily hindered by slow-changing regulations.

  • Potential use for human consumption is minimal and requires a cultural shift in order to increase acceptance.


Black Soldier Fly - The Bug Factory - Holding BSF


Introduction


The Black Soldier Fly (BSF) is a tiny insect that has been quietly making a big impact in various industries worldwide. Its remarkable ability to transform organic waste into valuable biomass has garnered significant attention and interest. In recent years, BSFL has emerged as a key player in the fields of waste management, sustainable agriculture, and animal nutrition, offering innovative solutions to some of our most pressing global challenges. As the world grapples with issues like food security, environmental sustainability, and resource scarcity, the potential market applications of Black Soldier Fly are expanding rapidly.



Market Overview


Although the Black Soldier Fly market is relatively new, it is growing rapidly. Analysts have predicted the BSFL market will project a compound annual growth rate of 34.7% during 2022-2029, which is forecasted to reach $49.63bn in 2029. The factors determining its growth are many and varied and include rising prices of alternatives such as soymeal, innovation in usage of its by-products, which has increased government support for its environmental benefits, leading to increased investment by key players in the market, all looking to exploit its potential and be first to market.



Applications:


Black Soldier Fly - The Bug Factory - poultry eating BSF

1. Livestock Feed:


At present, livestock diets commonly incorporate soybean oil and meal, but considering the heavy environmental drawbacks associated with Soy, there is a demand for an alternative solution.

Three studies explored replacing soybean oil with BSF oil in broiler chickens' diets and found no significant differences in performance or meat quality. One of the studies showed promising results of decreased liver fat content and total cholesterol values in chickens fed with BSF oil. Research on young turkeys demonstrated that replacing soybean oil with BSF oil was applicable without negative effects and could be considered an antimicrobial fat. Feeding BSFL with some additional local protein could replace soybean meal in laying hens' diets without negatively impacting production or performance and even improving feather condition and reducing feather pecking.

Applications:

Coppens Diervoeding B.V. in the Netherlands was the first global feed compounder to include insect oil in chicken and pig feed, launching these products in 2016. Protix also introduced a concept in 2016, providing live BSF to poultry farmers to feed laying hens whose eggs are sold under the brand Oerei in Dutch supermarkets.

The global poultry market's total value exceeded $175 billion in 2018, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 4.5% until 2025. The global pig feed market was worth over $106 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 3.5%. Despite these figures, however, the current market volume for insect-based livestock feed remains small and negligible due to Price disparity and regulatory constraints.

BSF oil is a viable alternative to soybean oil in broiler chicken and nursery pig diets. Additionally, when supplemented with local proteins, BSFL can replace soybean meal in laying hens' diets. Currently, at least one feed compounder worldwide sells insect oils for chickens and pigs to farmers, and Protix offers live larvae to farmers for a unique egg production concept. Both BSF oil and live BSF are current product market applications, but their market volumes remain small.

Black Soldier Fly - The Bug Factory - aquaculture

2. Aquaculture feed:


Several studies have investigated the use of whole Black Soldier Fly (BSF) meal as a replacement for fish meal in animal diets.

Sensory tests conducted on salmon diets with BSF meal replacements found no differences in fish performance or quality. A study on meagre fish recommended replacing 17% of fish meal with 10% of whole BSF meal with similar effects and fish quality. Additional experiments conducted with zebrafish showed that at least 25% of fish meal can be replaced with whole BSF meal without negative consequences. These reports show that a total replacement of fish meal with BSF meal is possible for salmon, while the partial replacement is suitable for meagre and zebrafish. However, this ultimately shows that the effects of BSF meal replacements can vary significantly between fish species.

Applications:

Since July 2017, the European Union (EU) has allowed the inclusion of animal protein, including Black Soldier Fly (BSF) protein, in farmed fish feed. Canada has also permitted the use of whole BSF meal in fish feed since 2012, and Australia also allows feeding fish with insects. Various products are already on the fish farming feed market, such as "friendly fish" by Protix, which contains whole BSF meal for species like Salmon, Trout, and Shrimp.

The global aquafeed market was valued at $105 billion in 2018 and has a compound annual growth rate of 8.05%. However, the use of insects and BSF in fish meal remains negligible due to its higher price when compared to mass-market Fishmeal.

Black Soldier Fly - The Bug Factory - pert shop

3. Pet Feed:


BSFL production initially served the hobby pet food market, providing live BSFL for reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish bait. Companies serving this market have been operating for some time, but demand can be seasonal, declining in winter and autumn due to bird breeding and reptile hibernation.

Dogs and cats are the most prevalent hobby pets globally, with approximately 470 million dogs and 370 million cats owned as pets worldwide in 2018. Since these pets primarily rely on meat for protein, the pet food industry is estimated to contribute to about 25% of the environmental impact of the meat industry. Insects are considered a viable protein source for speciality food designed for cats and dogs, potentially replacing or supplementing meat in pet food. Three experiments have been conducted regarding BSF in dogs' and cats' diets.
The first experiment supplemented beagle dogs' diets with 2% whole BSF meal, improving digestibility and exhibiting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
The second experiment suggested higher digestibility of dog food containing whole BSF meal as a protein source compared to traditional proteins like meat.
The third experiment replaced traditional proteins in cats' diets with whole BSF meal, with most cats tolerating the food.
Promising results from research indicate the potential for partially replacing traditional proteins in cats' and dogs' food with BSFL meal. However, additional research is necessary to draw definitive conclusions.

Applications:

Some pet food suppliers offer products containing insects, with many claiming the hypoallergenic nature of black soldier fly (BSF) protein. Netlaa BV, an English pet food producer, introduced a hypoallergenic cat food brand containing BSF protein called "Trovet" in the Netherlands. Protix is another food supplier that sells BSF protein meal (ProteinX) and a supplement for wet pet food (PureeX) to pet food producers.

The pet food market had a value of over 91 billion US dollars in 2018 but including insects, like BSF, remains minimal. Research suggests the potential for partial replacement of traditional proteins in cat and dog food with BSFL meal, but the high price compared to current meat-based meals and consumer habits have limited BSF's presence in pet food products.

Black Soldier Fly - The Bug Factory -  fertiliser

4. Fertiliser:


Although chemical fertilisers are commonly used in agriculture, they have quite a high environmental impact quality. Research suggests that the compost from BSF rearing has a similar quality to commercial fertiliser without the downsides of chemical products. Another study found that using up to 20% of BSF residue can replace commercial fertiliser and enhance the growth of crops like baby leaf lettuce, basil, and tomato, constituting a current product application in the fertiliser market.

In the European Union, BSF excrement and skins are categorised as 2 and 3 materials and can be used as fertiliser or soil improver only after undergoing sterilisation treatment at 70 degrees Celsius for one hour to eliminate weeds and pathogens.

Applications:

The traditional fertiliser market was valued at over 155 billion USD in 2019 with a projected compound annual growth rate of 3.8% until 2025. Some companies, including "insect frass" in the USA and Protix's "FlytilizerX" in the Netherlands, sell BSF-containing fertiliser products on the consumer and business-to-business markets.



5. Biodiesel:


BSF oil, derived from larvae grown on organic materials like chicken manure or restaurant kitchen waste, has shown potential as a biodiesel feedstock. Research has also demonstrated that BSF oil can fully replace rapeseed oil in biodiesel production without negative consequences, meeting European biodiesel standards.

As previously mentioned, BSF-derived materials fall under EU regulation 2009/1069 as category 2 and 3 materials, making them suitable for biodiesel production without additional treatment.




Competitive Analysis

Price analysis

Meal type

Meal trading price (Euro/kg)

BSF larvae

3.50

Fish meal

1.54

Soymeal

0.37

Table 1. Price analysis of whole meal types.

Many different factors can contribute to price differences between different feed types. Such examples include, year-round availability, perishability, nutritional potential and production efficiency just to name a few.



Quality Analysis


When considering the nutritive quality of BSF and its alternatives, many studies have shown the nutritional benefits of BSF meal in regards to its amino acid content and overall macronutrient profile.

Comparing the protein quality to soymeal and fish meal, one study has shown that BSF meal is comparable to these two meal types. Another study has demonstrated the growth effectiveness of BSF derived protein compared to soy-derived proteins. Collecting meat from animals fed with BSF meal and soybean cake showed a higher protein value in the animal who consumed BSF meal despite both meal types having the same protein content.


Environmental Impact:


BSF larvae efficiently convert organic waste into protein without requiring substantial land, making them a resource-efficient option. On the other hand, soymeal, derived from soybean cultivation, demands significant land, water, and energy resources, often leading to deforestation and biodiversity loss. Fishmeal, sourced from overfishing, contributes to marine resource depletion and poses ecological threats due to its high demand for fish.



Future Trends & Opportunities


Human Consumption:

With the growing global population and increasing emphasis on sustainability, there's a need for alternative, sustainable protein sources. Insects like the BSF offer environmental advantages, including lower greenhouse gas emissions and higher feed conversion efficiency. In some regions, entomophagy (insect consumption) has been practised for a long time, and research has shown that insects provide suitable nutrients for humans, including proteins and valuable micronutrients.

Medicine:

BSF has been shown to contain antimicrobial peptides that have potential applications in medicine, particularly in addressing antibiotic resistance. Various studies have shown that insects could be used to combat infections and diseases, including cancer. BSF also contains chitin, a polysaccharide with properties similar to cellulose. Chitin has immunological effects and may have positive effects on lung diseases such as asthma.

Cosmetics:

Palm oil and coconut oil are commonly used in cosmetics but are expensive and environmentally unsustainable. BSF oil has shown to have a fatty acid profile similar to coconut and palm oil.This means that it has potential as a replacement for palm and coconut oil in cosmetics, however further research is needed to develop products based on these findings.



Challenges & Limitations


BSF has potential to be utilised in a wide range of industries, from use as livestock feed to potential use in medicine. Its use however does have some limitations that prevent it from being fully utilised in these industries.

EU regulations currently prevent BSF reared on waste to be fed to livestock, due to fears over disease spillover. This severely limits their use in such a key area of food production. There is also concern that a complete replacement of BSF in Aquaculture feed can cause reduced performance due to low palatability and nutritive content compared to other feed sources. For example, when used as fish feed, BSF meal can cause significantly slower growth rates compared to traditional fish meal. One reason for this may be because of the fact that fish preferentially consume many different insect species at one time. This implies that fish consumption habits must be considered to maximise quality, which may require additional research.

BSF protein quality also shows variation due to differences in substrate composition and bodily chemical composition, where the presence of chitin, lipids and fatty acids can negatively affect the final protein content.



Consumer Acceptance


Despite the many positive aspects of insects and BSF for human consumption, consumer acceptance is low in the western world, largely due to cultural factors and historical perceptions. In some countries where insects have been consumed traditionally, their consumption is declining as they are seen as food for the poor. Taking a historical approach, with lobsters as an example, lobsters were once considered low class food but are now a luxury dining product. Insects may have similar potential for a perception shift in the future. The need for education of consumers about the positive aspects of insects is crucial to change perceptions and increase acceptance. One added benefit that may resonate with some individuals is that insects are environmentally friendly sources of protein, making them appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.



Conclusion


Research findings indicate promising potential for BSF-based product applications across four markets. However, these applications are not currently widely available on the market. BSF has strong potential as a sustainable protein source for various consumer food products, though consumer acceptance remains low, which may change as the product becomes less visible as it is used as an ingredient. BSF meal has also proved suitable for replacing soybean meal in animal diets, benefiting swine and poultry livestock.

However, regulatory obstacles hinder its entry into Western livestock feed markets. The antimicrobial peptides of BSF offer promise as new antimicrobial medicines for animals and humans, while chitin can be applied in the field of medicine, particularly in addressing lung diseases. Lastly, BSF oil shares characteristics with palm and coconut oil, which are common in cosmetics, suggesting the potential for BSF oil to replace these oils in cosmetic products in the future. In conclusion, while the literature highlights the potential of BSF in various markets, addressing consumer acceptance, regulatory issues, and further research are essential for realising these future market applications.

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