17th September 2019Back
Author: Valeria Valkova, Business Manager
Insect protein flour has been on the horizon for a while now.
Only a few years ago the prospect of insect-based food products was viewed in the West with at best concern and at worst with derision. Fast forward to 2019 and now we see them as a very valuable and sustainable source of protein and carbohydrates. There have been several significant financial investments reported by start-up companies and with the global market for edible insects expected to reach $1.53 billion by 2021, it is easy to see why.
With over 2,000 types of edible insects to choose from it is no surprise to see a number of protein products made from insects already on the market. Insect companies, EXO, Chapul, Entis and Finnish company Fazer have all produced products containing cricket flour. This uptake in insect-based foods is also reflected in the retail industry with grocery chains including Sainsbury’s in the UK, Loblaw in Canada, and Whole Foods stocking bug-based items.
What I envisage coming next is a hydrolysed insect protein produced using a blend of protease enzymes. As discussed in a recent Pea protein technical paper: Enzymatic hydrolysis of plant proteins by proteases breaks down the large protein molecules into peptides exposing the functional amino acids to produce novel proteins with greater functionality and digestibility increasing their suitability to a wider range of products and applications. The same approach can be applied to insects to achieve a very specific protein flavour profile, degree of hydrolysis, and /or produce bioactive peptides. I’m quite interested to see when these types of products will be made available from insects.
But is it just protein everyone is looking at?
No, of course not. The exoskeleton of insects contains a substance known as chitin. Chitin is a polysaccharide which naturally boosts the immune system, thus eliminating the need for antibiotics. The extraction and purification of chitin is quite complicated due to the nature of the polysaccharide; however, insect chitin has been identified as a very valuable source for use in nutritional and pharmaceutical applications. Several companies are accessing this valuable source of chitin via an enzymatic approach to produce high quality chitin. This is just another example of how enzymes can help valorised the myriad of opportunities insects can give us. I believe we have only just scratched the surface of the value that can be obtained from insects and I am excited to see what comes next.
Some interesting facts:
- Crickets have 69% protein while beef only 29%.
- 80% of the world’s population already eats bugs
- Insect protein is high-quality; crickets contain nine essential amino acids, along with B12, iron, zinc, magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium.
- Cricket flour contains more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.
- The Copenhagen Bugfest on 21-22 September is dedicated to insects
- There is an insect cookbook published from a Finnish chef
- 100 gallons of water creates 6g of beef, 18g of chicken and 238g of cricket protein. A family eating food made with crickets just once a week for a year would save 650,000 litres of water.
- A single hectare of land could produce 150 tons of insect protein per year. As crickets produce less methane gas than cows, this could also have an enormous impact on reducing greenhouse gasses and slowing global warming.
Eating insects set to become an $8 billion business by 2030: Barclays – Business Insiderwww.businessinsider.com
finnish insect company entis ynsects – Google Searchwww.google.com
ynsects entis finland – Google Searchwww.google.com insects protein – Google Searchwww.google.com Crické | Tasty, High-Protein Snacks made with Edible Insects! crickefood.com
The Explosion of Insect Proteininterestingengineering.com