Written by Nathalie Leblond
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has estimated that in 2014 alone, disruptions caused by pest infestations resulted in an increase of £5.8 billion* in operating costs in the countries surveyed. In the same year, revenues declined by an estimated £11.8 billion* because of pest incidences.” (Business Impact of Pest Report)
So what are Stored Product Insects?
The term “Stored Product Insects” or “SPI’s” covers a number of insects including beetles, weevils, moths and mites that can be found in stored food products such as grains, cereals, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and even tobacco. Some mites even infest and contaminate food products such as cheese, flour, nuts, dried eggs, fruit, dried vegetable material and tobacco.
What to look out for:
The first signs of a problem usually include seeing small beetles crawling across counter tops, moths flying around inside, or small caterpillars crawling across the walls or ceiling. These are the adult stage of an SPI infestation, and whilst eliminating them is imperative, it’s not the solution to the problem. As a rule of thumb, the more adult stage insects one sees, the older and more widespread the infestation.
If you may also notice some or all of the following if you have an infestation: larvae, pupae or silken webbing on food storage bins on shelves, on the outside of packets or bags, in cracks and crevices around shelves or on machinery or on beams and windowsills, as well as holes in paper or cardboard packaging.
So why are they the most expensive pest?
SPI’s are regarded as the most expensive pests because a single infestation from a stored product pest can result in enormous economic losses through damage and contamination of food products and packaging.
Not only do the feeding habits of SPI’s cause damage – they eat the food they infest – but their breeding habits also contaminate stored product. For example, larder beetles lay their eggs in a food source. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will consume the food products by burrowing into the food materials and consuming it from the inside out. In addition to damage caused by feeding, and breeding, they can also contaminate food materials with their waste, tainting the goods they are infesting.
This means that any contamination caused by these pests will make your food unfit for human consumption, and any infested products have to be found and destroyed immediately. SPIs can also cause damages to packaging, making some food products susceptible to accumulating food-borne diseases, whilst also reducing their shelf life.
Who is affected?
SPI’s are a health hazard in both private homes and businesses like food processing plants, warehouses, bakeries, stores, restaurants, mills, farms and silos.
What does this mean for business?
A study conducted by Rentokil found that 60% of businesses which have suffered from a stored product pest infestation reported an annual revenue loss of between 1 and 9%. In addition, nearly half of the businesses Rentokil surveyed (45%) with a stored product insect problem, reported replacement costs for contaminated raw ingredients such as flour, rice or wheat. 10% of businesses reported additional costs from an SPI infestation in the form of fines or closures.
That’s why preventative pest control measures are so important. Being able to prevent a costly infestation through integrated pest management practices and high standards of hygiene and sanitation (including stock rotation practices) makes sound financial sense.
Get in contact today to find out how Rentokil can support your business and prevent a costly infestation.