Aspire Food Group is already in talks to open a second cricket production facility to expand its global vision rapidly.
“We’re already in discussions with some of our customers and investors about site selection for a second commercial facility,” said Mohammed Ashour, chief executive of Aspire.
Last October, the company partnered with Seoul-based Lotte Confectionary Corp. to ship its first batch of crickets to South Korea — a supposed protein-rich food source sold as a powder for drinks and baked goods and an ingredient in protein bars.
The first London site marked Aspire’s first deal to sell crickets for human consumption, as it only sold crickets as a pet food additive until October.
“We have significant contractual commitments for the majority of our products and expect 100% will be sold within the year,” said Ashour, adding its first site may produce as much as 13 million kilograms of crickets annually.
Although the second London facility will exclusively use cricket flour to produce pet food, the company is interested in producing crickets for human consumption.
“Crickets are the insects with the most traction from a consumer standpoint, and they’re also lower in fat than mealworms or black soldier fly larvae, so you don’t have to de-fat them, and the powder has a 24-month stable shelf life,” explained Ashour.
“On the human food side, the low-hanging fruit is in Asia and parts of Europe, but for pet food, we’re seeing excitement across the board,” he said, adding they are high in protein, low in fat and not costly.
Aspire Food Group hopes the London factory will have 100% production capacity in early 2024. According to a Research and Markets report, the edible insect market will reach $3.5 billion by 2029 and grow 28.6% annually between 2022 to 2029.
Proponents of alternative proteins like crickets include the World Economic Forum. They argue that it helps humanity shift towards a more sustainable future by offsetting emissions produced by meat products.
Cricket food production uses about one-eighth of the water and generates one-third of the carbon emissions of a cattle farm.
Ashour previously dismissed the claim that these plants are part of a global conspiracy to force people to eat bugs.
“We are a [proudly] Canadian company, employing Canadians, sourcing products from Canadian businesses and hopefully setting ourselves up for future expansion,” he said. Aspire employs about 100 people in its first London site.
“Canadians should be proud this business was incubated here and is growing on a global scale,” said Ashour.