Nutritional Qualities of Black Soldier Fly Larvae

Western Sydney University

  • Project code: PRO-016034

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Sunday, June 12, 2022

  • Project completion date: Sunday, July 2, 2023

  • National Priority: NEI - New and Emerging Industries - SM1


Globally, the edible insect industry is rapidly growing with over 2 billion people (~25% of the world’s population) consuming edible insects. Despite this growth, the Australian edible insect industry is still considered early stage, consisting of approximately 15 growers with small scale production facilities. Relatedly, there are no industry standards or species-specific guidelines for growing and processing edible insects in Australia. The project “PRJ-012514 Nutritional quality of edible insects and development of pet foods” (Phase I of the project funded by AgriFutures) was completed on 30/05/2022. The outcomes of this project include completion of an extensive literature review on edible insects, an understanding of the effects of feed type on the nutritional value of black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), an assessment of the microbial contamination of commercial BSFL samples, development of BSFL incorporated cat and dog foods, granting an Australian innovation patent (2021107534), and commercialising the production processes for BSFL based dog foods.
Phase I of the project uncovered inconsistencies relating to the quality of BSFL in Australia. There are significant quality variations in BSFL (protein and fat contents as well as microbial contamination) within (batch to batch variation) and between growers. The results also indicated that some of the commercially available BSFL samples are contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms, which can cause severe illness and high levels of toxicity. Safe and consistent quality raw materials are key requirements for the food/feed industry. Without a developed set of processes and standards, this will remain a limiting factor for the expansion of the Australian edible insect industry. These gaps will be addressed in this phase II of the project by conducting a study to determine the best postharvest processing conditions of BSFL.
Phase II of the project aligns well with the AgriFutures RD&E Plan ‘Catalysing a $10m Australian Insect Industry’, the Edible Insects Roadmap developed by CSIRO and closely aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2, 3, 9, 12, 13, 15 and 17. The research will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team that consists of edible insect growers, processors and end users as well as world renowned researchers. New processing technologies (e.g. production processes for safe BFSL with extended shelf life, and value adding by fractionation) will be developed as part of the study. The results shared with the broader Australian edible insect industry to assist upscale production and drive market growth. Further, the postharvest processing techniques for BSFL developed by the project will be included in the Gold Standard Black Soldier Fly Production Manual to be developed by the Emerging Insect Technology Hub.


New and Emerging Industries

Research Organisation

Western Sydney University

Objective Summary

1. Economic Benefits
To ensure benefits to the whole edible insect industry, the project has been designed in collaboration between participants along the value chain. Participants include a leading research organisation (Western Sydney University), insect producers (FlyFarm, Mobius Farms, Boisinth, and Solution Blue) and pet food manufacturer (Buggy Bix). The project is also supported by the Insect Protein Association of Australia (IPAA) and will operate in consultation with the Emerging Insect Technology Hub.
The project will provide essential research to industry participants detailing how to harvest and process edible insects consistently without compromising quality. This includes economical postharvest methods to manage microbial contamination and achieve shelf stable products at commercial scale. The project outcomes and postharvest techniques will assist to increase local production of protein rich food/feed ingredients which, over time, will reduce the cost of importing protein sources such as fish meal and soybean meal.
Additionally, employing BSFL quality assurance practices will influence and broaden opportunities into markets such cosmetics, nutraceuticals, and inclusion in human foods. This will accelerate development of the industry segment and encourage positive economic outcomes through value added services, manufacturing/processing and employment.
2. Environmental benefits
The project outcomes will provide environmentally friendly processing methods for enterprises using BSFL to convert food waste into high value food/feed ingredients. This will have downstream benefits including reduced landfill and greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Industry benefits
Importantly, the project will encourage innovation and commercial opportunities benefiting stakeholders beyond the project participants. Dissemination of the research outcomes and potential applications through AgriFutures and the IPAA will assist to improve the rural knowledge and skills required to create viable commercial outcomes at both a proprietary and industry level. Relatedly, this will help foster the business confidence required for a profitable domestic industry, job creation, and opening of new markets.