Good grub: why we might be eating insects soon

UN Insects 2018

UNEP GRID Arendal/Peter Prokosch The rainbow milkweed locust, in Madagascar.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content

Finding a bug in your food can be a moment of horror that kills the mood and your appetite in one fell swoop. But that might be about to change, according to Meticulous Research, who’ve crunched the numbers on why we’ll soon be voluntarily crunching insects.

The market research company predicts the global market for edible insects could grow to $1.18 billion by 2023. That’s almost triple its current level.

So, what’s behind this anticipated increase in appetite for creepy-crawlies? There are a number of factors in play and the answer is wrapped up in an understanding of how insects compare with the production and farming of other food types.

Per kilo of live weight, bugs emit less harmful gas than more mainstream farm animals. A cow, for example, produces 2.8 kg of greenhouse gas per kilo of live body weight. Insects, on the other hand, produce just 2 grams.

They also consume fewer resources than traditional livestock. For each kilo it weighs, a cow needs 10 kg of feed. Bugs on the other hand need just 1.7 kg.

Water, which is becoming an increasingly scarce resource in some parts of the world – and which is used liberally in intensive farming – offers another interesting comparison. To produce a single gram of insect protein, you’d need 23 litres of water. That might sound like a lot. But to get that same gram of protein from cattle, you’d need 112 litres of water.

Image: Bloomberg

From the farmer’s point of view, raising insects is going to be radically different from raising sheep, pigs, or cattle. No more coping with mud, muck and filth. An end to shifting heavy sacks of feed. And forget about having to go outdoors in all weather to manhandle livestock. The requirement for investment in equipment will be different too. This will be farming on a much smaller scale, reducing the need for large and expensive machinery.

It may not be too long before we can all buy a bag of edible insects at our local grocery store. Despite being eaten by 2 billion people globally, EU laws have prevented the sale of insects for human consumption.

However, the EU’s new Novel Food Regulation, which came into force in January, might mean insects will become a more common sight on European plates.

In 2017, Switzerland changed its food safety laws and became the first European country to allow the sale of insect-based food for humans. And the same year, the Coop unveiled a range of mealworm burgers and balls in some of its Swiss supermarkets.

In March, IKEA’s external innovation lab SPACE10 revealed it is “reimagining” popular dishes at the retailer’s in-store restaurants. In a blog post, the researchers explain that they are working on bug burgers and mealworm meatballs, but add that the new ingredients are being tested so customers won’t find them on IKEA menus.

As scarcity of resources and sustainability become increasingly important issues for food production and distribution, how long before you’re asking for insects in your food, rather than complaining if you find one?

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

For Africa, ‘winds of hope are blowing ever stronger,’ Guterres declares at conference on development

This new initiative aims to make cybercrime harder – and riskier – to commit

Wash your hands, but keep your mind clean

Civil society groups matter for Cambodia’s sustainable development: UN expert

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

States with power and influence to end suffering of Yemenis must take action ‘immediately’ – UN rights chief

‘Stand united against anti-Muslim hatred’ urges Guterres, after mosque shootings in New Zealand leave 49 dead

Coronavirus: a Disease that spreads as fastly as its fake news

Japanese law professor elected new judge at the International Court of Justice

Virus Coronavirus: No time to die

Ebola not an international ‘health emergency’ but risks spreading across DR Congo border, warns UN health agency

How smarter machines can make us smarter humans

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: “Am I a real Boy?”

The EU will always have a stable partner in Montenegro, says President Đukanović

More ambition needed for EU recovery instruments, says majority of MEPs

A call for a new crop of innovators

The fatal consequences of troika’s blind austerity policy

8 ways ASEAN consumer habits will change by 2030 – shaped by COVID-19, tech and more

Don’t understand the US-China trade war? This metaphor could help

Engaging world’s youth vital to preventing violent extremism, building sustainable peace, UN official tells Baku Forum

How we can survive the great COVID lockdown: IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath

On Human Rights Day European Youth Forum calls for end to discrimination of young people

Commission’s action plan: financial world mandatory links to environmental targets

G20 LIVE: “International communities and leaders have great expectations for 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou China”, Mr Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special envoy stresses live from G20 in Antalya Turkey

Australia urged to evacuate offshore detainees amid widespread, acute mental distress

Marginalized groups hit hardest by inequality and stigma in cities

Where is Egypt leading the Middle East and the Mediterranean economy?

Syria: ‘Violence, displacement’ and cold kill 11 infants ‘in the past two days’

Bias in AI is a real problem. Here’s what we should do about it

Ecofin: ‘The Friday battle’ for the banking union

The Indian miracle state pointing the way to global sustainability

Chatterbox Rome Declaration cannot save the EU; Germany has to pay more to do that

Towards the new era of medicine

Restrictions, unmet promises, unbridled violence in Sudan, a ‘recipe for disaster’, says Bachelet

More billions needed to help Eurozone recover; ECB sidesteps German objections about QE

Cum-ex tax fraud scandal: MEPs call for inquiry, justice, and stronger tax authorities

EU-US trade talks go ahead despite Prism and civil rights breach

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

Coronavirus global response: EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to Afghanistan and further support

The UK option: An overarching alternative for the whole Brexit options

NEC @ MWC14: “Smart cities” hold the key to enhancing citizens’ lives and cutting costs

IMF v Germany: Eurogroup keeps the fight under control

Is the EU denying its social character favouring a banking conglomerate?

Thomas Cook bankruptcy: Better consumer and employee protection needed

Anti-vaccination scaremongering: What should we know about anti-vaccine argument?

Diversity training doesn’t change people’s behaviour. We need to find out what does

A Sting Exclusive: “Leading by example! EU must push for UN deal to avoid dangerous climate change”, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek cries out from Brussels

JADE Testimonial #3: Sebastian @ Fundraising

Why does the whole world want Britain to stay in the EU?

MEPs boost support for EU research and Erasmus

The US may be “open” to reviving TTIP, while the EU designs the future of trade with China

Myanmar willing to repatriate ‘verified returnees’ from Bangladesh

Millions more migrant workers, means countries lose ‘most productive part’ of workforce

State aid: Commission expands Temporary Framework to further support micro, small and start-up companies and incentivise private investments

Several crises in one: what effects will COVID-19 have on the global risk landscape?

How can coronavirus lockdowns end safely and effectively? – WHO briefing

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

Around 600,000 Afghan children face death through malnutrition without emergency funds: UNICEF

State aid: Commission approves market conform asset protection scheme for banks in Greece

Quelling antimicrobial resistance: a clinico-pharmacological exigency

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. Hi, really interesting blog post! I was wondering if you had any ideas what were the main reasons for EU law restrictions on insect farming despite public perception?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s