A ‘how-to’ guide on insect farming has been published by Zero Waste Scotland.

Touted as a sustainable new way to produce protein using less resources, insect farming does not need acres of land, as it all happens indoors, with the chief input being the 'vast mountain' of food waste available from supermarkets and other businesses.

Dr William Clark, bioeconomy specialist at Zero Waste Scotland, wrote the new guidance for would-be insect farmers as changing regulations open up more opportunities for open-minded 21st century farmers. He said: “Insect farming is a really valuable, circular economy way for us to use food waste to produce more protein using less resources.

“You can set up an insect farm in a few shipping containers. You don’t need the acres of fields which traditional farming requires to feed more typical livestock, so insect farms aren’t competing for the same limited resources, like land and water. They can produce about 100 times more protein per year from the same amount of space than you would get by farming chicken or cattle," he claimed.

“Scotland’s food waste could support dozens of insect farms and jobs. Firms and governments around the world are already reaping the economic and environmental benefits of investing in this innovative approach. It’s time Scotland did the same.”

He added: “Farming insects in Scotland might sound unlikely or unappetising but it could play a significant role in solving Scotland’s food waste problem and reducing our reliance on imported crops like soy for agriculture and aquaculture, which drives up the carbon emissions behind the climate crisis."

New European Union regulations allow farming of seven insect species, including field crickets and black soldier flies, fed on pre-consumer food waste from supermarkets, arable farms and bakeries, such as surplus cereals, bread dough, liquid chocolate and crisps.

Farmed insects can then be fed in turn to farmed fish, and also used to make pet food. The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre estimates that demand for insect protein from that sector alone is worth more than £25million per year. These regulations are expected to be extended to allow insects to be farmed to produce feed for poultry and pigs too.