Leading UK supermarket Morrisons is set to reduce the use of soya feed at 10 of its free range egg farms by switching the animals to an insect-based diet, Morrisons reported on 1 December.

Soya currently accounts for 10-20% of hens’ normal diets and up to 70% of the emissions from the UK’s supply chain is attributed to feed, of which soya is a major contributor, according to the company.

Morrisons said reducing soya and using insect-based feed on these 10 farms alone was expected to save 56 ha/year of South American land from deforestation, while also reducing CO₂ emissions by 5,737 tonnes/year and saving 40bn litres/year of water.

The company said the move was part of its plan towards launching its own-brand carbon-neutral eggs next year.

Insect ‘mini farms’ will be introduced at the 10 UK egg farms to feed the hens, which will also receive a supplementary diet of British beans, peas and sunflower seeds, according to the statement.

Containing millions of insects, the ‘mini farms’ – developed by agritech company Better Origin – would provide nutrient rich and natural food for the hens, the company said.

The insects would be fed on waste from Morrisons’ own fruit and vegetable site in Yorkshire, according to the report, creating a ‘circular waste’ feeding scheme.

“Reducing soya from livestock feed is one of the key challenges for farms needing to lower their carbon footprint and we wanted to help find a solution,” Morrisons’ head of agriculture Sophie Throup said.

“We’re also finding a good home for our fruit and veg waste. We think that this could be part of the future of egg farming.”

Morrisons said it expected to start selling the carbon-neutral eggs next year, with carbon-neutral options for fruit, vegetables and meat to follow as part of its commitment to be supplied by only net zero British farms by 2030.