SWAP (Silkworm as Protein)
Feeding the world is a huge challenge as the population is expected to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050. Alongside human population number of pets is also increasing. Number of pet dogs and cats is around 360 million in Europe and US alone. Contamination, poor nutrition, questionable ingredients, low quality food-industry wastes, and deceptive labelling are part of some of the pet food industries. There is a need for transformation in pet foods; especially for the rising sector of hypoallergenic and bland diet for pets. Selection of ingredients and their nutrient composition can influence the sustainability of pet food industry. Considering a sustainable approach in feeding our companion animals without compromising their health is a great challenge. It can also have a greater global impact on future protein demand and supply. Hence there is an urgent need for alternative protein sources, which provide the full range of essential amino acids in a sustainable way to keep our pet animals healthy and pet owners happy.
To avoid the protein gap, new sustainable protein sources are needed. Insect rearing is a recent frequently discussed topic, though a lot of techniques within this new branch of agriculture still need to be developed. But there is a field of insect rearing with thousands of years of experience: Silk production. India, as the second largest silk producer in the world, produces around 250,000 tons of fresh pupae per year as a by-product of sericulture. After reeling, the highly nutritious pupae are usually thrown away or sometimes used as fertilizers or directly as feed. We want to establish a method to process the pupae from silk industry into a protein and iron rich powder. This way, we can provide a new, sustainable protein ingredient for pet food industry. Insect products are suitable for specific needs of pet food even in terms of digestibility and palatability. Furthermore, we obtain silkworm oil, which is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. It can be used for various applications in chemical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry or also as a replacement for fish oil in pet foods.