Monday, November 09, 2020

Purina to launch pet food with protein from bugs, Asian carp

Nestle Purina PetCare is launching a new line of cat food and dog food made with larvae of black soldier flies, and plans to offer other lines soon based on Asian carp. It's all part of a push to find protein from cheaper, more sustainable sources.

The Beyond Nature's Protein line will hit stores in Switzerland this month, and the company plans to expand to other European markets, Jaclyn Diaz reports for NPR. Purina spokesperson Lorie Westhoff said the company will offer U.S. customers an insect-based dry dog food in January, sold online only, along with several other formulas using protein alternatives such as Asian carp, an invasive species.

Purina "is embracing what the company views as a growing trend among consumers seeking protein alternatives for their cats and dogs, company representatives told NPR," Diaz reports. "A desire to be more environmentally conscious drives the consumer change, as does a perceived health benefit from a diet that substitutes meat."

The United Nations has warned that it will be increasingly difficult to find cheap, reliable protein sources as the world's population grows and resources are stretched, and recommends insects as a meat alternative. That could help with global warming too, the UN says, since meat production is responsible for releasing large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane, Diaz reports.

Scientists have had their eyes on fly larvae for a while now. "That’s because of the black soldier fly larva’s remarkable ability to transform nearly any kind of organic waste — cafeteria refuse, manure, even toxic algae — into high-quality protein, all while leaving a smaller carbon footprint than it found," Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. "In one week, a soldier fly colony of modest size can turn a ton of waste into 100 pounds of protein and 400 pounds of compost . . . In one year, a single acre of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle or 130 acres of soybeans."

Asian carp could be a promising source for pet-food protein too. State and federal agencies have spent more than $600 million since 2004 trying to halt the spread of the invasive species, but they're having a hard time figuring out what to do with all the fish. A pioneering public-private program in Kentucky pays anglers for carp and auctions the catches online, mostly to Chinese buyers.

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