Insect and algae-based oils could provide a healthy and environmentally conscious alternative to vegetable oils such as olive oil, a report published in FoodNavigator on 19 April states.

According to Mintel’s ‘Yellow Fats and Edible Oils in the UK’ report released in September 2016, vegetable and sunflower oils are still the most commonly used edible oils.

However, product such as fly larva oil and algae oil could provide healthy and sustainable alternatives for more “adventurous” consumers, FoodNavigator said.

Flying SpArk, an Israeli company specialising in products made from fruit fly larvae, has developed a protein-rich, cholesterol and gluten-free alternative to vegetable oils.

The production process used almost no water, was free from greenhouse gas emissions and waste and had negligible land use due to the fruit flies’ short lifespan, as well as their self-harvesting and self-cleaning nature, the company said.

Fruit flies were, according to FoodNavigator, also rich in omega 7, which had suggested health benefits including reducing weight gain, promoting muscle growth and reducing C-reactive protein (CRP).

“Our customers are multinational food and ingredients manufacturers. They approached us for samples and are now testing the oil,” Eran Gronich, Flying SpArk CEO, told FoodNavigator.

“[This means] that not only are they not finding the source repelling, they look at insects as a legitimate source of nutrients and for us it is a huge validation from the food industry,” he added.

Another alternative to mainstream edible oils comes from algae, as exemplified by US-based AlgaWise, part of the Solazyme group, which produces the Thrive brand of algae oil.

The production of algae oil was reportedly comparably to that of the fly larva oil with its low carbon and water footprint, in addition to algae being one of the world’s “most sustainable food sources”, FoodNavigator wrote.

“We can dislocate the production of … oil from a tropical climate to the middle of Iowa in winter and make an oil that is more nutritious and more stable,” said Solazyme senior vice president Mark Brooks.

According to AlgaWise, its oil could be used in spreads, sauces and dressings, as a culinary oil and in baking and frying.

Additionally, the company claimed that one tablespoon of the oil had the same amount of monosaturated fat as a whole avocado and 75% less fat than olive oil.

Neither product was available at the moment to the European general public.