Bugs for piglets. Cargill and InnovaFeed extend insect feed deal

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A Cargill logo is pictured on the Provimi Kliba and Protector animal nutrition factory in Lucens, Switzerland, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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PARIS, May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. agriculture giant Cargill and French biotech firm InnovaFeed said they aim to feed 20 million piglets with insect oil by 2026 as part of a wider alternative protein deal.

Insect feed has become an increasingly popular alternative in agriculture and aquaculture as demand for animal feed surges, pushing feed grain prices higher, and as more companies work toward reducing their carbon footprint.

Cargill (CARGIL.UL) and InnovaFeed announced a first agreement in 2019, initially focusing on fish feed.

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"The expansion of this partnership will include more species, starting with the use of oil derived from insects for pig feed," the companies said in a joint statement on Monday.

InnovaFeed will produce the insect oil in its plant in Nesle in northern France, currently the world's largest, which will then be shipped to Cargill in the United States for inclusion in animal feed products, Innovafeed's spokeswoman said.

Insect oil is rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that helps improve the intestinal health of animals, especially piglets, the companies said.

InnovaFeed teamed up with U.S. grain trader and processor Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM.N) last year to build the world's biggest insect protein plant in Decatur, Illinois. Construction is due to begin next year.

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Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Alexander Smith

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