Bergen op Zoom (AP) - The Netherlands expects a boom in the production of insects as animal feed. This is a contribution to the sustainable production of fish, meat and eggs, said the government in The Hague.

In Bergen op Zoom in the south of the country, the Dutch King Willem-Alexander will open one of Europe's most modern insect farms on Tuesday. In the plant of the enterprise Protix insects are to be bred according to latest procedures as a protein supplier for animal feed.

Insects such as soldier flies and mealworms are a "promising alternative source" for protein, explains the Ministry of Agriculture in The Hague. So far, the feeding of dead insects in the EU is permitted only in fish farming and in domestic animals. It is expected, however, that the ban on pig and poultry farming will soon be lifted. Protix also exports to Germany.

According to the company, the new insect farm produces according to the principle of circular economy. Vegetable food remains are recycled as food for the insects. These in turn then form a protein-rich raw material for animal feed.

Tarique Arsiwalla, co-founder of the company, expects significant increases in production following the lifting of the feed ban in the EU. "I also see opportunities for our farm in pork and poultry farming in Germany," he told the German Press Agency.

Protix produces insects and processes them primarily as powder especially for fish farming and pets. Customers are becoming greener, says Arsiwalla. "What is more natural now: insects or soybeans flying in from the other end of the world?"

The company also breeds living insects - such as larvae of the soldier fly as food for poultry. They are exempted from the EU ban. "Chickens are not vegetarians," said the entrepreneur.

In the Netherlands there are currently about 25 farms that breed insects. Sales figures, however, are not revealed by the entrepreneurs.

Interest among farmers is growing, observes the insect expert at the University of Wageningen, Arnold van Huis. "The production is significantly less harmful to the environment and cheaper." The expected insect boom applies only to cattle feed. "In the short term, insects will not play a big role in human nutrition."

Breeder Arsiwalla does not expect people to eat worm burger or grasshopper salads regularly. "The psychological barrier is still very high."