March 07, 2022 — Crispy cricket fries or mealworm-based sausages and pasta could be next on the menu for European consumers following the approval of house crickets (Purchased domesticus) and yellow mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) as protein-rich food ingredients in the EU.
The two species of insects having obtained Novel Food authorizations in the EU, FoodIngredientsFirst talks to M-Food co-founder Dave van der Pasch about the insect-based ingredients company’s predictions for this booming sector.
“The possibilities are nearly endless, giving the potential of eating insects even greater than the plant-based meat revolution,” he asserts.
Europe’s appetite for nutritious insects
The new EU authorizations are seen as “important steps” to address today’s crucial challenges of dwindling resources and growing populations, M-Food points out.
Asked about regional disparities in appetites for insects in Europe, van der Pasch replied: “Research does not give a clear view of the differences between countries.
“Overall, young people and men are more willing to try foods containing insects,” he points out. “Insect eaters also tend to be perceived as more health conscious, environmentally friendly, imaginative, courageous, interesting and knowledgeable.”
“We believe that a positive experience with good-tasting products will lead to a gradual acceptance of insect-containing foods in the EU.”
New market for a new food source
M-Foods recently entered into a license agreement to produce insects for food applications under the EU’s Novel Food dossier.
M-Food focuses on the production and marketing of high quality insect-based food ingredients. These ingredients are added to meat alternatives, bread, granola bars, cookies, pastas, soups, pizzas and snacks, among other products.
“The founders of M-Food Natural Ingredients have been involved in the insect business for over 15 years. They recognized the need to transform insects, the missing link between insect breeders and the food industry,” says van der Pasch.
“Foods with insect ingredients don’t stop at meat substitutes. Insect-based food ingredients have their role in multiple foodstuffs. For example, supplementing dry pasta with cricket powder, which makes it a highly nutritious food or bread with mealworm which adds important protein, iron, vitamins B1 and B12 to the diet of the elderly .
Mealworm protein is as nutritionally beneficial as ‘gold standard’ dairy protein, according to new research from Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Thus, the applicability of insect-based ingredients also extends to protein isolates for sports nutrition. US researchers from West Virginia University are currently laying the groundwork to develop efficient protein isolation techniques for crickets, locusts and silkworms.
High-yielding protein source with eco-friendly credentials
The buzz around insects is growing. Insects are rich in protein and other essential nutrients and can be farmed on a large scale with minimal environmental impact.
Recent reports reveal that the insect protein market is expected to be worth up to US$8 billion by 2030.
According to a study cited by Ÿnsect, 60% of Western European consumers have shown interest in sports nutrition products containing insect protein. The analysis was based on over 1,000 people in France, Germany and the UK.
Meanwhile, a separate analysis from Indiana University and Purdue University in Indianapolis, USA also predicted the weakening of the stigma surrounding edible insects in the near future.
Earlier this month, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) investigated the future challenges and risks presented by the consumption of insect-based ingredients, alongside other new foods such as jellyfish and meat grown from cells.
Last July, migratory locusts (Locusta migratoria) have been marked as safe for human consumption in frozen and dried formats, following approval by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
By Benjamin Ferrer
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