Tyson Foods Plans Insect Products For You

Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest protein processors, recently announced a partnership with Protix, a global leader in insect-based protein. The agreement will see a substantial investment in insect-based protein production in the United States. However, the current plan is to expand pet food, livestock, and aquaculture supply. Western consumers have long turned up their noses at the idea of eating bugs but the idea has long been floated as a method of alleviating food shortages.

Tyson Foods Chief Financial Officer John R. Tyson explained in a statement that the plan represents the largest strategic investment in the U.S. to develop insect-based protein production. The agreement calls for a manufacturing facility to be built that will convert food waste into protein-rich ingredients.

Insect protein offers many benefits over traditional ranching operations including significantly less land use, reductions in harmful chemicals that run off and pollute waterways, and massive reductions in air pollution to generate the same amount of protein. Alternatives to beef-based protein like veggie burgers have slowly gained acceptance in mainstream American culture. Major fast-food chains now offer plant-based options and it is only a matter of time before insect burgers start popping up on menus.

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2016 that examines the health benefits of insects versus traditional meat products. The research concluded that insects are a poor substitute for meat in societies that are concerned about over-nutrition as bugs have higher levels of sodium and saturated fat.

Instead, researchers indicate that insect-based protein is most useful in societies that suffer from inadequate food supply and as a means of avoiding the environmental damage caused by livestock farms. Insect production results in far less air pollution than cattle farming, considered to be among the biggest causes of methane pollution. As a source of nine amino acids, insects can help alleviate malnutrition and other diseases caused by poor-quality food.

The plant being built in the U.S. will handle all stages of insect growth from hatching the larvae to harvesting and processing the protein. The facility will use food waste to feed the insects which may have an impact on reducing landfill waste and could be a way to use fruit and vegetable waste generated by grocery stores.

Protix is based in the Netherlands and began insect farming in 2019. Today, they are among the largest producers in the world and process 14,000 tons of insect protein each year. The company’s products are a source of protein that is used in pet food, livestock food, and aquaculture, industries which are faced with increasing pressure to reduce the use of meat-based proteins in the face of major environmental concerns across the globe.