Urgent action is needed to ensure Europe does not miss out on the huge potential benefits offered by insect protein as food and animal feed, insect suppliers have urged.

The newly formed Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) said lack of legal certainty over insect protein in the EU was “jeopardising” investment in the industry and restricting availability of an affordable protein to farmers.

The group called for a revision of EU legislation to allow insect products reared on 100% vegetables substrates to be used as feed for aquaculture, poultry and pigs.

It said insect proteins could now be produced on an industrial scale at competitive prices while meeting the EU’s strict feed safety standards.

Bpex veterinary team manager Martin Smith said insects were not currently a “designated, recognised food source” for pigs and poultry.

But the use of insect protein could be beneficial to the industry, and potentially help dispose of food waste. “You would grow the insects on food waste, and then use the insects as feed. That does overcome some of the problems associated with the feeding of waste to animals,” he said.

He warned public perceptions could be “the biggest stumbling block”, but a survey by the EU-funded PROteINSECT project last year found three-quarters of people would be happy to eat chicken, fish or pigs reared on insect protein.

IPIFF was launched on 13 April by insect-producing companies from the Netherlands, France, Germany and South Africa.