Food giant Nestle has come up with an interesting solution to making pet food more sustainable — insects.
The Swiss corporation announced it will start making food for our four-legged friends out of insects to reduce the amount of meat from other animal sources used to produce pet food.
The Purina Beyond Nature’s Protein range comes in two flavours — including one that uses black soldier fly larvae — and is set to be released in Switzerland this month, though it is not known when it will be available in Australia.
A number of smaller brands including Green Petfood’s InsectDog, and Yora, already make insect-based pet food.
Nestle said the coronavirus pandemic had boosted demand for dog and cat food as people stuck at home increasingly bonded with their pets, adopted pets or taken to ‘spoiling’ their animals with pricier food.
Nestle spokesman Bernard Meunier said, “we are offering a complete nutritious alternative to conventional dog and cat products, while taking care of the planet’s precious resources by diversifying the protein sources.”
“We’re constantly looking at ways in which we can source sustainably for the longer-term.”
According to Canstar, Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Of them, 38 per cent have dogs and 29 per cent have cats.
Animal Medicines Australia estimated Australians spent as much as $12.2 billion per year on their pets in 2017.
Insects such as crickets have more protein per kilogram than beef, with 100 grams of cricket yielding more than 60 grams of protein compared to 43 from beef or 31 from chicken.
According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reducing the use of meat from ruminant animals and shifting to diets that are lower in high-emission foods like beef could reduce CO2 emissions by 0.7–8.0 Gigatonnes per year, as well as reduce water use, soil degradation, pressure on forests and free up land currently used for feeding animals.
The agency also found that switching to insect protein would see less waterway contamination from animal manure, and reduce the risk of zoonotic diseases spreading to humans.