Planet Ark has reported that the UK’s first dog food made from insects went on sale in mid January, reflecting a growing trend in innovative pet foods using the alternative protein source.
Liam Taylor from Planet Ark said that the new product from Brighton-based start-up Yora pet foods is composed of insects, oats, potatoes and natural botanicals, with insect protein representing about 40 per cent of the dried pellets that form the final product.
The dog pellets are made using the larvae of black soldier flies, which are fed on food waste by Holland-based protein nutrient company Protix, and Yora hopes to also launch a wet version later this year.
It has been estimated that pets consume around 20 per cent of the world’s meat and fish and this is expected to increase further as more and more consumers begin to feed their furry friends human-grade meat.
Meat produced for pet food is also estimated to be responsible for around 25 per cent of the environmental impacts (land use, water use, fossil fuel use etc.) of meat production.
Mr Taylor said that due to this heavy environmental toll, experts have long recommended insects as a relatively sustainable alternative source of protein for both humans and animals. Insects are rich in essential proteins, fats, minerals and amino acids, and are easy for animals to digest.
Few people know that insects form part of the natural diet of more common pets, with many canine and feline species of mammal eating bugs in the wild to fulfil their nutritional requirements.
The first dog food formula using insects as the only source of animal protein was launched in 2014 by Dutch manufacturer Jonker petfood. Since then, numerous other insect-based pet foods have emerged in Northern America and Europe.
Several of these also use the black soldier fly larvae, while others incorporate flour made from crickets, which are up to 65 per cent protein by weight.
As interest in and awareness of the environmental impact of our pets’ meals grows, options for insect-based pet foods are expected to continue to increase, Taylor said.