The food industry is about to take a giant leap forward towards sustainability as a new partnership between Chicago-based food processing company Archer Daniels Midland and InnovaFeed, a French firm that makes insect protein for animal feed, are set to build the world's largest insect protein factory farm in central Illinois, according to Forbes.
ADM and InnovaFeed will grow and harvest billion and billions of insects called black soldier fly, whose larvae are scavengers and thrive on decomposing organic matter and convert it into a nutrient-rich protein that can be transformed into animal feed.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Once the facility is operational, both companies estimate yearly output could be around 60,000 metric tons of animal feed protein.
"I'm in awe. If they can pull this off, it will be magnificent," said Jeffrey Tomberlin, a professor and entomologist at Texas A&M University who has conducted years of research on insect protein
"This facility will be several times bigger than anything else in the world," Tomberlin said.
Black soldier fly larvae produce at least one hundred times more protein per acre than traditional animal feed sources such as corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats, and barley. This could be a monumental achievement for the agriculture industry as a bid for sustainably sourced food when pandemic-related shortages have developed, along with soaring prices.
Albert Edwards, an investment strategist at Societe Generale SA, recently published a report on soaring food prices.
Edwards, quoting the latest figures from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), showed food prices of oilseeds, dairy products, meat, and sugar are on the rise. Show below, the FAO food index hit a sixth-year high in November.
FAO Food Prices
"At a time when the World Bank notes that the Covid-19 pandemic will increase extreme poverty by around 150 million, we all need to be very vigilant of another food price bubble," Edwards warned.
He also links soaring food prices to the Federal Reserve's easing policies that caused a rapid jump in food prices in 2011, resulting in social unrest in multiple countries.
Food Price Rises And The Arab Spring
The pandemic has devastated the working poor as rising food prices come at an inopportune time that could incite social unrest.
Americans Go Hungry In Pandemic
Edwards makes the case that "another food price bubble" could be dead ahead.
The good news but not likely to offset a spike in food prices that is already underway is the future mass adoption of insects into the global food supply chain. Pound for pound, insects are the most efficient food source for animals and humans.