Trudeau to send 'insect food' firms to 2023 U.K. climate summit

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.

Trudeau to send 'insect food' firms to 2023 U.K. climate summit
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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If your business produces insects for human consumption, then Parliament wants to send you abroad to explore the future of ‘food technology.’

In partnership with Protein Industries Canada, the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada Research Assistance Program wants interested enterprises to attend the Future Food-Tech summit in late September.

“The program will include pitch sessions and [business to business] meetings with selected top-tier U.K. [small- and medium-sized businesses] to focus on alternative proteins,” wrote Protein Industries Canada. 

“For this mission, alternative proteins will include firms leveraging plant-based, cellular agriculture, insect and fermentation technologies.”

The Future Food-Tech summit is expected to bring over 800 business leaders “creating foods that are nutritious, accessible, and climate-smart,” according to Protein Industries Canada.

“Enjoy a future-focused programme, with thought-provoking discussions and exciting pitches on the latest innovations in improving health through…affordable foods while reducing carbon footprint throughout the supply chain,” reads the summit’s website. 

Last October, Aspire Food Group partnered with Seoul-based Lotte Confectionery Corp. to ship its first batch of crickets to South Korea — a protein-rich food source sold as a powder for drinks and baked goods and an ingredient in protein bars.

The first London site marked its first attempt to sell crickets for human consumption, as it only sold crickets as a pet food additive until last October. 

“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 Mohammed Ashour, chief executive of Aspire.

“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 and produce upwards of 13 million kilograms of crickets annually.

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. 

According to WEF, farming insects “for food and animal feed could offer an environmentally friendly solution to the impending food crisis.”

“Insects are a credible and efficient alternative protein source requiring fewer resources than conventional breeding,” states a WEF blog post. 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 [globally],” said Ashour.

As of March, the company engaged in talks with Canada to open a second facility in the country. No further details have been reported on the status of those negotiations as of writing.

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