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French retail giant Auchan to sell chickens fed with insects

Shoppers in Auchan stores in the north of France will now find a new product on the poultry shelves: free-range chicken that has been raised on a diet enriched with insect oil. 

The insect oil, used as a substitute for the traditionally imported soybean oil, is said to be far more environmentally friendly, reducing the carbon impact by as much as 80%. 

It marks a continuation of the retail giant’s shift towards environmentally friendly products.

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At the last Salon International de l’Agriculture show held in Paris in February, Auchan’s head of butchery and poultry Anne Lécaille affirmed a commitment to “virtuous and natural alternatives for animal nutrition”. 

The insect oil is often made up of flies’ larvae, a good source of healthy protein for poultry.

The new product is a collaboration between Auchan and French biotech company InnovaFeed. The two companies have been working together since 2018, developing trout fed with insects, and in February of this year, Auchan announced it would be continuing this supply. 

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At the moment only 4,400 chickens can be fed with this insect oil, but in the longer term, InnovaFeed hopes that, like the trout, its insect-fed chickens will be introduced permanently into Auchan’s supply chain. 

InnovaFeed is not the only French company turning to insects as a source of nutrition. Ynsect, founded in 2011, creates insect-based aquaculture and pet nutrition. Last year it received €112 million in investment, showcasing the explosion of global interest in insect-based nutrition.

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Auchan’s new chicken product will be on shelves initially for a limited trial period to see whether customers take to it. According to a 2019 study from data company Kantar, early indications are promising, with 55% happy to consume poultry fed with insects.

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