PetSect: Edible insects as a novel protein source for pet food

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Agricultural animal production not elsewhere classified
    • Sustainable agriculture
    • Veterinary nutrition
Pet food Protein Edible insects
Project description

Edible insects are one of the solutions for Europe’s growing dependency on imported protein. Because of their ability to convert organic lowgrade residual streams into a nutritional rich product they can be used as a sustainable and locally produced high quality protein source.

Despite the legal approval, the use of edible insects is almost nonexistent in food for dogs and cats. The implementations of edible insects are fairly new in Europe, hence there are still some fundamental questions before the widespread application will kick off. The focus of Petsect is gathering knowledge about the fundamental baselines of the use of insects as ingredients for pet food and novel health applications, such as processing techniques, nutritional value, digestibility and especially the effect on immune system. More research is necessary to develop a palatable insect-based pet food with a high nutritional value. Petsect will focus on the use of yellow mealworms (YMW) and black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) as these production processes are currently the furthest developed which has a direct impact on the mass availability and the price.

The overall goal of Petsect is to create a nutritional balanced food, with an extra benefit for gastrointestinal health, for both cats and dogs with insect larvae (fractions) as main protein source or functional (chitin, lipid or protein based) ingredient. The leveled ingredient approach for selecting promising feed ingredients comprises 1) nutritional analyses 2) in vitro digestibility & bioactivity evaluation. 3) in vivo digestibility and palatability with 4) monitoring of gastrointestinal health effects by means of microbiome and metabolome analyses. Additionally, the sustainability of the whole process from farming the insects up to the development of the pet food will be assessed to ensure a sustainable end product.