Mealworms for premium quality, nutrient rich and sustainable pet food

Health & nutrition
November 15, 2023

After years of research Sprÿng has developed high quality and sustainable premium mealworm-derived proteins, ideal for the pet food industry.

For the last decade, Sprÿng powered by Ynsect, the world leader in the production of insect protein, has been researching and breeding mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) in vertical farms in France and the USA, with the aim of providing a new food source for pets while preserving natural resources, catering specifically to pet owners in search of climate-conscious alternatives.

Premium value insect protein

According to the FAO, insects provide high-quality proteins with nutritional values comparable to other animal proteins commonly used by the pet food industry. Mealworm proteins are rich in all essential amino acids (except for methionine and taurine) while also naturally supplying significant amounts of fats, vitamins, natural fibers like chitin, and minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium and zinc. This makes them the perfect base ingredient for a balanced, complete and high in quality protein dietary formulation for cats or dogs.

Valorizing every part of the insect through its circular model [Figure 1], Sprÿng has developed a range of high quality, natural, digestible and healthy ingredients such as high concentrated protein products, protein hydrolysates or oil, both for dry and wet pet food applications. Using mealworms guarantees a premium nutritional quality with the highest protein content (up to 71%) on the market. Sprÿng has specifically tailored to the pet food industry by producing appetizing odorless and brown ingredients with exceptional nutritional properties.

Knowing is caring for the insect, the stability and the safety

Decades of research into the physiological and nutritional requirements of the mealworm has helped Sprÿng tailor precisely to their needs, improving the well-being of the insects but also the quality of their product line.

A lot of work was put into formulating and developing an ideal sustainable diet so mealworms can grow in the fastest, healthiest and most optimal way. Dry, compartmentalized, controlled, and stackable nurseries, tailored to the beetles needs, also help maintain consistent, hygienic and disease free, conditions so that production is largely unaffected by external factors, and system stability and products quality is guaranteed.

Precise monitoring of the beetles environment ensures product safety, consistency and traceability over time, a real asset for R&D development, quality control and regulatory requirements.

Mealworm proteins: the best of both worlds

As the farming industry is responsible for almost a quarter of the annual green gas emissions, pet food plays a major role in the climate crisis. In fact, the pet food industry produces almost 3% of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from farming4.

Compared to traditional feed, mealworms can be farmed commercially with less water, land and energy while producing high-quality feed with fewer greenhouse gas emissions. As such, diets that include a large amount of mealworm proteins offer the optimum solution to reduce environmental impact while providing high nutritional benefits. Combining the best of both worlds, mealworm-based products are one of the best proteins available on the market able to show not only performance and health but also sustainability.

As the insect-based pet food market could increase 50-fold by 2030, mealworm proteins will most likely be gaining a foothold in the sector as a premium and high-value ingredient that will open the industry to new food product developments that are climate friendly, efficient and nutritious.

1Bosch et al. – 2014 – Protein quality of insects as potential ingredient
2E.Wynants et al. – 2019 – Risks related to the presence of Salmonella sp. during rearing of mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) for food or feed: Survival in the substrate and transmission to the larvae
3Tzachor et al. – 2021 – Future foods for risk-resilient diets
4Peter Alexander et al. – 2020 The global environmental paw print of pet food
5The Guardian – 2021 – Why feeding your pets insects could become all the buzz

About the author
Benedicte Lorette
Benedicte Lorette
PhD, R&D Director

Bénédicte Lorrette is Animal Nutrition & Health R&D Director at Ynsect. She joined Ynsect more than 5 years ago as a researcher specialized in insect product analysis and characterization. Today, in this role, Bénédicte is responsible for leading research and development programs to deepen the knowledge of current insect products and to adapt them to the different and the new animal markets for insects (aquaculture, petfood, swine and poultry). Bénédicte’s scientific expertise and knowledge of Ynsect’s ingredients and processes also enables her to provide support to the business development, regulatory and intellectual property teams. Prior to joining Ynsect, Bénédicte worked in various research and technical roles with public, academic and private companies. Bénédicte holds an Engineer diploma of Food Science and a Master of Science in Food Science and Biotechnology from ENSAIA, Nancy (Lorraine University), followed by a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Avignon University.

Ensuring safety of mealworm products
Ensuring safety of mealworm products
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