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4th November 2015

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Insects – Creating a Buzz Around Protein

In the current food and ingredients market, the demand for increased protein consumption is one of the most important trends of the last few years. With this increased demand companies are scrambling to find non-allergenic and more sustainable sources of protein. This has lead Lux Research to conclude, “Alternative proteins will account for a third of the market by 2054 and insects will play a key part in that.” So why insects compared to other novel protein sources?

They have been lauded as a more sustainable alternative to the current demand for meat and fish. In fact the UN’s Food and Agriculture organization found in a 2013 report that they emit fewer greenhouse gases than cattle and convert feed more efficiently into food, which will reduce the amount of water and feed required to support the farming system.

In addition to their green credentials they also have good nutritional values with a high protein content and low fat content. In fact, cricket flour is reported to contain as much as 60% protein content; however by using enzyme hydrolysis it is possible to produce a purer protein productthan the milling techniques used currently.

There are still many hurdles for insect protein to overcome within the Western market, the first of which is regulation, as there is still confusion within the market as to whether products have to be approved for sale. One example from this year is a Danish supermarket withdrawing insects from its shelves after just two days of stocking.

The second is the “Ick” factor that insects may have with Western consumers and it still remains to be seen whether people are willing to accept “creepy crawlies” as a legitimate food source. Finally, there is currently not a suitable infrastructure set up to produce insects efficiently at a very large scale.

For the minute though manufacturers, particularly of cricket flour, are content with targeting the most adventurous and open-minded of consumers. The next few years are going to be critical in determining whether insects become the next big protein trend or stay as a novelty.

By Thomas Parkhill

Internal Sales Executive
@thomas_Biocats

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