Belgians Use Larvae Fat as Butter Substitute in Baked Goods
Wed, April 21, 2021

Belgians Use Larvae Fat as Butter Substitute in Baked Goods

Butter is an important ingredient in baking as it is a solid fat compared to other fat products. It adds flavor to baked goods, makes baked goods more tender, helps in leavening (steam and rise) and adds moisture, which is why some baked goods easily melt in the mouth / Photo by: Ahecht via Wikimedia Commons

 

Butter is an important ingredient in baking as it is a solid fat compared to other fat products. It adds flavor to baked goods, makes baked goods more tender, helps in leavening (steam and rise) and adds moisture, which is why some baked goods easily melt in the mouth. However, some people choose to avoid butter for various reasons, such as if they are vegan, if they have lactose intolerance, if they have an intolerance to casein found in milk products, or because butter is high in saturated fat.

Larvae Fat as a Butter Substitute

Some healthy substitutes for butter in baking include olive oil, ghee, avocado, Greek yogurt, mashed bananas, coconut oil, nut butter, and applesauce. A team of researchers from Ghent University in Belgium has suggested that insect larvae fat can also now be used as a butter substitute in baked goods.

In their study titled “Consumers’ perception of bakery products with insect fat as a partial butter replacement,” the team shared that they examined the potential of black soldier fly larvae fat in three bakery products: waffles, cakes, and cookies. They then served these baked goods to 344 consumers for a blind test taste. The team formulated the baked product with 0%, 25%, and 50% black soldier fly larvae fat (BSF LF).

The result of the blind taste test showed that BSF LF can replace 25% butter in the baked goods without altering the overall food liking and experience. The BSF LF substitution may even be up to 50% in waffles without influencing the taster’s acceptance of the food. The majority of the study participants said that they were not put off of the appearance, texture, and flavor of the larvae fat.

Some healthy substitutes for butter in baking include olive oil, ghee, avocado, Greek yogurt, mashed bananas, coconut oil, nut butter, and applesauce / Photo by: Neha Sonal via Wikimedia Commons

 

Why the Need for Alternatives?

The team went on to say that there is a need to look for alternatives to animal-based products because the increase in demand will also mean more livestock production, thus increase in environmental impact. Butter is a dairy product that is created from mixing cream and milk, which often comes from cow, sheep, buffalo, yak, or goat.

Belgian researchers Claudia Delicato from the Department of Agricultural Economics and the team said that a sustainable alternative to animal-based food sources is insects and insect products. It is also more environmentally favorable than using plant sources.

Butter is a dairy product that is created from mixing cream and milk, which often comes from cow, sheep, buffalo, yak, or goat / Photo by: Ibrahim Husain Meraj via Wikimedia Commons

 

Use of Black Soldier Fly Larvae Fat in the Baking Industry

The Belgian team mentioned that BSF LF contains about 70% saturated fat and has been often used in animal feed because of its capital investment and economic viability.  The lauric acid contents in the BSF LF also provides positive nutritional attributes to the larvae fat, making it more digestible and prevent the growth of viruses, fungi, and gram-positive bacteria. Fats are used in the baking industry because they provide mouthfeel provision, flavor compounds emanation, gluten structure reduction, and tenderness.

Co-author Daylan Tzompa-Sosa said that the lauric acid found in insect fat also has an antimycotic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial effect. This means that it can remove harmless fungi, bacteria, and viruses in the body once consumed, giving a positive health effect. "Insect fat is a different type of fat than butter,” she added.

Tzompa-Sosa also said that she was a part of the research team at Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands in 2016, wherein they turned mealworm fat into oil, like mixing soybean oils and canola. This discovery appeared in the documentary platform VICE Asia. At that time, though, they were not allowed to eat it because it was created in the laboratory. Although the oil smells “grassy” and mild, it is not that bad, the author said.

The black soldier fly larvae can convert food scraps into useful products at fast speed. They are similar in appearance and size to a wasp and eat all organic material. Generally, they also stay away from humans and they have no venom or sting, which means they are harmless to humans. Farmers and gardeners find the BSF LF helpful for pest control and waste reduction too. Their leftovers can be processed or compost into an animal feed.

]Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a government department responsible for agricultural programs and research, said that Americans and Canadians love their baked goods, such as cakes, doughnuts, snacks, and cookies. More of them look for “real” ingredients in their food, including real butter and real sugar. They shop for better ingredients for their baked goods but they are also not willing to sacrifice the flavor. So, they avoid baked goods with artificial or processed ingredients.

It further shared the global positioning of baked goods by retail sales in US$ billions in 2017. The retail sales of baked goods in the US reached US$58.5 billion, representing 1.8% CAGR. It was followed by the following countries: China ($28.6 billion), Brazil ($24.7), Japan ($20.7), Italy ($19.0), Germany ($16.5), France ($16.0), Mexico ($14.6), Turkey ($13.3), United Kingdom ($8.1), and Canada ($5.6).

The trend is expected to continue until 2022 with forecasted global sales to reach $US464.4 billion or 5.7% CAGR. The historic market sizes of baked goods in the US based on retail value sales are the following: bread (US$ 23,386.4 million), cakes ($17,143.3 million), dessert mixes ($1,418.6), frozen baked goods ($2,261.7), and pastries ($14,387.5).

In Canada, the market size of bread is forecasted to reach US$ 4,243.4 million in 2022 followed by cakes ($869.9 million), dessert mixes ($79.2 million), frozen baked goods ($245.4 million), and pastries ($1,214.4 million).

Per Capita Consumption of Butter Worldwide

Database company Statista has likewise shared the per capita consumption of butter worldwide in 2018, by country. New Zealand came in first place at 5.89 kilograms of butter per capita followed by Australia (4.72 kg.), EU-28 (4.31 kg.), India (4.12kg), Belarus (3.91 kg.), Canada (3.36 kg.) United States (2.64 kg.), Russia (2.38 kg.), Mexico (1.91 kg.), Ukraine (1.73 kg.), Taiwan (0.97 kg.), Japan (0.61 kg.), Argentina (0.47 kg.), Brazil (0.43 kg.), and China (0.15 kg.).

It may be a long way before the black soldier larvae fat will be accepted in the baking industry but it is definitely something consumers could try. This form of butter substitute may also increase the nutritional value of foods because of additional healthful fat and reduced calories.