Cosmetics companies are getting their protein from an unexpected source, according to a report by the LA Times.
Farms which raise millions of cockroaches are becoming common in China, and are used to provide protein and cellulose for beauty products.
The nation currently has around 100 cockroach farms, with more being created all the time.
The website makingcosmetics.com describes protein in cosmetics as being used for filling and bulking out material, as well as for creating the correct texture, rather than being an active ingredient.
Nevertheless, cosmetics consumers are bound to be disturbed to learn where the material for their products is coming from.
Wang Fuming, the largest cockroach producer in China, told reporters: ""I thought about raising pigs, but with traditional farming, the profit margins are very low. With cockroaches, you can invest 20 yuan and get back 150 yuan."
How to raise a cockroach
The business is appealing to farmers because of its low startup costs- eggs, a secure building and something to provide dark places for the roaches to hide. It can also produce high returns, with farmers earning the equivalent of US$11 from a US$3.25 investment.
Cockroaches can also be leveraged in other ways as sources of income- they are used in traditional Chinese medicine, and are even eaten in some parts of the country.
The most common species used is the American cockroach, which can reach 1.6 inches in length, making it an efficient protein source.
As householder owners may know, cockroaches can live on practically anything, including wood, leather, cigarette butts and glue, making them very easy to provide for.
A risky investment
Despite their appealing profit margins, cockroaches are also a risky investment for Chinese farmers.
In August, at least a million escaped from owner Wang Pengsheng’s farm in the eastern province of Jiangsu after the plastic greenhouse in which they were raised was broken into.
The escape made news headlines around the world, with the pests infesting nearby farms and buildings for weeks.