Morrisons builds insect 'mini farms' in move towards carbon-neutral eggs

The UK company plans to reduce its reliance on soy
calendar icon 11 January 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

© Morrisons Corporate

New Better Origin insect ‘mini farms’ will be introduced onto UK egg farms to feed the hens, who will also receive a supplementary diet of British beans, peas and sunflower seeds. The ‘mini farm’ containers house millions of insects and will provide nutrient rich and natural food for the hens, the company said.

The insects will be fed on waste from Morrisons own fruit and veg site in Yorkshire, creating one of the UK’s first ‘circular waste’ feeding schemes within the same company to produce food. Over 30 tonnes of fruit and veg waste will be recycled each week.

Soy currently accounts for 10-20% of hens’ normal diets. Up to 70% of the emissions from the UK’s supply chain is attributed to feed, of which soy is a major contributor. The company said that reducing reliance on soy and feeding insects food waste on the 10 farms is expected to save 56 hectares of South American land from deforestation every year. Half of the world's soybeans are farmed on the continent. It will also reduce CO² emissions by 5,737 tonnes and save 40 billion litres of water annually, said the company.

Morrisons expects the first carbon neutral eggs to arrive on its shelves in 2022.

The insect units have been developed by agritech company Better Origin. Each container can help feed 32,000 free range hens and will receive three tonnes of waste from Morrisons fruit and vegetable site each week. The insects can grow to 5,000 times their initial body mass in less than 14 days. Collectively the 10 containers will feed 320,000 free range hens who lay millions of eggs a year.

Insects are a natural part of birds' ancestral diets and wild birds seek out insects as they forage. Studies by Better Origin and the Universities of Bristol and Turin have found that insect feed improves bird health and welfare. The insects are nutritious and rich in essential amino acids and healthy fats. They have no impact on the quality, taste or shelf life of the hens’ eggs.

“Reducing soya from livestock feed is one of the key challenges for farms needing to lower their carbon footprint and we wanted to help find a solution," said Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons. "An insect diet could suit our hens better - they seem to enjoy it - and the nutritional and added health benefits are notable. We’re also finding a good home for our fruit and veg waste. We think that this could be part of the future of egg farming.”

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