Stored Product Insects: The World’s Most Expensive Pests

Stored product pests: The world's most expensive pest

Stored Product Insects (SPIs), are a physical risk to businesses which operate within the food industry such as food processors and food retail companies. They can also be found amongst the textile industry.

SPIs go by many different names. They are often referred to as stored product pests, pantry pests, pantry insects, or food pests to name a few.

They are regarded as the most expensive pests, a single infestation from a stored product pest can result in an increased expenditure for businesses.

Stored product pests can cost the average business around $35,941 each year, over double the cost of a typical pest infestation.

Stored product pests

Stored product pests infographuc

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Stored product pests come in both the crawling and flying variety of insects. They can often be found infesting food ingredients during the delivery to a food retail store or in raw food ingredients when stored for a long time. Items such as cereals, nuts, spices and preserved meats, to name a few, are at particular risk.

SPIs can also cause damages to packaging, making some food products susceptible to accumulating food-borne diseases, whilst also reducing their shelf life.

Boring beetles

stored-product-pests: boring-beetles

Some species of food beetles can have a damaging effect on food products through the use of their pincer-like mandibles to bore through packaging. This results in the damaged products being unfit for human consumption and removed from the food production line.

Flying insects

stored-product-pests: taking-flight

Some stored product pests such as the rice weevil are strong fliers. This aids both their feeding and breeding habits and can cause damages in multiple areas.

The flying capabilities of rice weevils and other stored product pests allows them to easily travel from field to field and infest food products such as grain before it is even harvested.

Growing infestations

stored-product-pests: growing-infestations

A stored product insect’s ability to damage food products and packaging can be a result of its breeding habit.

Some stored product pests can quickly develop into large populations, with some females laying up to 400 eggs in a lifetime. Both the adult’s and the larvae’s diet consist of the food products they infest, which can have a large impact on stock.

Light sources

stored-product-pests: Light sources

Food beetles are attracted to light sources. Areas, where food products are stored, are often well lit, which aids in the attraction of stored product insects.

It is more common to find a stored product pest infestation in a well-lit area than it is to find one where there is little to no sources of light.


stored-product-pests: offspring

Food products and packaging aren’t only at risk of damages caused by the feeding habits of stored product pests, but also their breeding habits.

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.


stored-product-pests: the-perfect-size

The small size of stored product insects allows them to successfully inhabit and infest businesses handling food.

The saw-toothed grain beetle’s small size allows it to easily hide in crevices, making detection difficult to the untrained eye, whilst also allowing it to penetrate packaged food products.

Stock loss

stored-product-pests: stock-loss

On top of the damages stored product pests can cause to food products via their feeding, and breeding habits, they can also contaminate food materials with their waste, tainting the goods they are infesting.

This will increase the need to reject and waste products, having an effect on stock and replacement costs.

SPIs – What does it mean for businesses?

A recent study conducted by Rentokil explored the impact pests have on a business. Through our findings, it was discovered that within the hospitality industry, 73% of all the businesses we surveyed were concerned by revenue losses caused by stored product insects.

Stored product pests are regarded as the world’s most expensive pests. 60% of businesses which have suffered from a stored product pest infestation reported an annual revenue loss between 1 and 9%.

Nearly half of the businesses we surveyed (45% to be exact) that accumulated a stored product insect problem reported replacement costs for contaminated raw ingredients such as flour, rice or wheat. Similarly, 10% of businesses within the food processing industry reported costs from stored product pests in the form of fines or closures.

Business impact of pests for food processing companies report


Integrated pest management

The most effective solutions for businesses to protect themselves from stored product insects, and other pests, is to implement an integrated pest management programme.

Rentokil’s integrated pest management approach combines four core principles:

      1. Exclusion: Eliminating the opportunities for entry
      2. Restriction: Training staff in pest awareness to spot the early signs of infestations
      3. Destruction: Utilizing innovative solutions to remove pests from premises
      4. Monitoring: Regular checks and monitoring devices to detect early warning signs of pest infestations

Our integrated pest management programmes are tailored to an individual company’s business needs. This will enable us to support compliance with food safety regulations, and help safeguard your reputation and profits.

Get in contact today to find out how Rentokil can support your business comply with the necessary food safety standards and regulations.

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