April 22, 2022 — The ValuSect consortium of European insect growers has awarded €460,000 (US$496,600) in services to 18 edible insect companies. The selected companies will benefit from the help of expert partners to develop their innovative idea, which will contribute to the improvement of insect production as well as consumer acceptance in North West Europe.
After a similar contribution of €410,000 (US$442,600) last year, ValuSect says it has generated “great enthusiasm” among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the insect sector – as a total of 26 applications have been submitted. received, from 24 different candidates.
“We are very happy to see that SMEs are very interested in our services”, underlines Sabine van Miert, project manager, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences.
“The growing insect-based food sector has so much potential and we are happy to foster its development.”
Support for up to €40,000 of services
ValuSect experts evaluated the applications and selected the 18 highest ranked cases. Each selected SME will receive services from ValuSect partners worth €10,000 ($10,800), €20,000 ($21,600) or €40,000 ($43,200) – depending on the type of service requested.
The cases cover a wide range of topics, from developing a feed substrate or a fresh new product to understanding consumer tastes.
Five selected SMEs are located in the UK, three in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, two in France and one in Ireland and the Netherlands.
According to new research from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, mealworm protein is as nutritionally beneficial as ‘gold standard’ dairy protein.
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.
Insects on the menu
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.
Last 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 novel foods such as than jellyfish and meat cultured from cells.
Last July, migratory locusts (Locusta migratoria) have been marked as safe for human consumption in frozen and dried formats, after approval by the European Food Safety Authority.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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