Buggin' for Bug Grub!
Why one third of the world thinks of bugs as food and why the practice is growing?
The United States Edible Insects Market size was estimated at $263.88 million dollars in 2021, and $370.76 million in 2022, and is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 37% to reach $1,675.21 million by 2027. In fact the years 2019 and 2020 are considered historical years in insect food growth, 2021 as the base year, 2022 as the estimated year, and years from 2023 to 2027 are considered the forecast period. Ants, Beetles, Crickets, Grasshoppers, Mealworms, Palm weevils, Sago worms, Scorpions, Silk Moth Pupae, Super warms, Tarantula, and Waxworms are some of the types of insects currently being offered in the US as food!
This is surprising because for most people who grew up in the USA the thought of eating insects on a regular basis as a part of our diet is less than appetizing in fact many would be on the verge of vomiting at the thought. The compound eyes, wings, jointed legs and crinkly exoskeleton common to most insects hardly sound appetizing. Yet the protein found in bugs—and their ability to consume organic waste—could be key to solving worldwide concerns over diminishing food supplies, greenhouse gas emissions, and equitable utilization of land and water resources.
Many insects are protein and nutrient powerhouses. Crickets, for example, have all nine essential amino acids and they have a lot of different vitamins and minerals. With cricket powder, we can provide 30 grams of protein and integrate it with any type of food and easily make it more nutritious. Anne Carlson, founder and CEO of Jiminy’s, which produces sustainable dog food and treats using cricket protein, also believes in the nutritional value of insects. “Cricket protein is prebiotic and the cricket’s exoskeleton provides fiber,” she said. “This feeds the good bacteria in the gut so you get great digestion. It’s also hypoallergenic, has two times more iron than spinach, three times more protein than beef and 10 times more B12 than salmon. That’s a lot of bang for the buck.”
Jiminy’s also incorporates grubs into some of its treats and food products. “Grubs are black soldier fly larvae and they’re smaller than crickets so they’re even more sustainable,” Carlson said. “One acre with cattle will yield 192 pounds of protein after a year. That same acre with grubs will yield 1 million pounds of protein. There’s no comparison. Insect protein is a serious solution to the serious problems of diminishing water and land resources. ”Many nutritionists and scientists believe insects represent an almost unlimited food source. According to chef Joseph Yoon, founder of Brooklyn Bugs Inc. and a self-proclaimed edible insect ambassador, “There are over 2,000 species of edible insects with so many different flavors and textures. And we’re just at the tip of the iceberg with research on what we can do to manipulate the nutritional value of insects.(Source Greg Seiter Business Journal 2022)
Although it’s way too easy to forget this, the fact is much of the world relies on factory farms for their protein. The production of meat in particular accounts for 60% of the greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere each year. Huge multinational corporations Cargill Cargill markets leading consumer brands of edible oils such as Nature Fresh, Gemini, Sweekar, Leonardo Olive Oil, Rath and Sunflower brand of hydrogenated fats. and McDonalds have both started feeding their livestock and chickens with insect-based feed. Europe’s insect protein production is expected to balloon to 1.2 million tons by 2025. And by 2030, the global edible insect market is predicted to reach $9.6 billion. The Cargill Family has 14 billionaires and owns Diamond Crystal Salt. Cargill’s Cocoa and Chocolate company operates along the entire cocoa supply chain, with sourcing and processing operations in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Brazil, Cameroon, and Indonesia. They are also heavy investors in insect protein futures! It’s difficult to determine how much insect farming will cost in the long run, because the industry is still relatively new. However, since they require less food, less water, and less space than other methods of farming with cattle, pigs, and fish, it’s likely to be a cost-efficient method of food production.
Insects as food is not new in many countries like India and in Southeast Asian countries where many insects are served as part of school lunches. In Thailand many Thais love snacking on grasshoppers, crickets and woodworms. The bugs are seasoned and fried in a wok until crispy, then served to passers-by at local food markets. Other insect eating countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa. The most commonly eaten insects include caterpillars, termites, crickets and palm weevils. The traditional consumption of edible insects is common in one third of the world's population, mostly in Latin American nations like, northern Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and southern Brazil, although not as widespread as in Africa and Asia. There are over one thousand identified species of insects eaten in some stage of their life cycle; and they play important roles in ensuring food security.
Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Texas, U.S., Aspire Food Group commercially farms and processes usable ingredients for food and feed. In the U.S., the company rears food-grade crickets on a commercial scale. In Ghana, it commercially farms palm weevil larvae and runs a program that empowers peri-rural farmers to locally raise palm weevils.
In March 2018, Aspire Food Group acquired Exo to produce cricket bars, high protein powder, and whole roasted crickets.
The company has its geographic presence across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa.
All Things Bugs LLC (U.S.)