Meat & Livestock News

Tyson Foods Backs Sustainable Agriculture with Investment in Insect Protein Firm Protix

Smart farming with agriculture IoT

Tyson Foods, a major player in the meat industry, has recently made a strategic investment in Protix, a startup specialising in insect farming, specifically crickets, for use in animal feed. This move is seen as a significant step towards sustainability in the food supply chain.

Dr. Alexandra Kazaks, a nutrition expert at the Institute of Food Technologists, views Tyson’s venture into the insect protein market as a credible endorsement of its potential.

Although the investment is not directed towards human food, it reflects a growing industry interest in incorporating insects into the food system.

Dr. Kazaks notes that insect farming is currently not equipped for mass adoption, but it holds solutions for pressing issues such as feedstock availability, disease management, and environmental sustainability.

The environmental benefits of insect farming are notable. For instance, producing a pound of crickets requires only 8 square meters of land, compared to the 115 square meters needed for a pound of beef, according to Cricket Powder, a producer.

This stark difference highlights the potential for insect protein to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of food and beverage companies.

Starting with animal feed, companies can navigate the market with fewer barriers, lower costs, and the opportunity to refine production methods. This could set the stage for future expansion into the human food market, which is anticipated to be larger and more competitive.

Despite its promise, the concept of edible insects still faces consumer skepticism, often associated with disease and disgust. However, as the demand for protein-rich foods grows, insects like crickets offer a viable alternative. Cricket flour, for example, contains 12 to 20 grams of protein per 100-gram serving.

Dr. Kazaks suggests that to overcome consumer reluctance, producers should highlight the nutritional benefits of insect-based products, such as their protein, vitamin, and mineral content, and the hygienic conditions under which they are farmed.

She proposes introducing insect-based products in non-intimidating ways that focus on their health benefits.

Insect-based products could potentially include dietary supplements, flavour enhancers, powders, bars, and burger patties, catering to adventurous eaters seeking new protein sources.

Emphasising the lower carbon and water footprint of producing edible insects compared to livestock could also appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.

In conclusion, Tyson Foods’ investment in Protix indicates a growing recognition of insect protein’s role in creating a more sustainable food industry. As the sector evolves, insect proteins, alongside plant-based and cell-based alternatives, are poised to become a significant and sustainable part of the food supply chain.