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BLOG: Eat crickets, save the planet!

Each year, around 70 million people are added to the world’s population. If growth continues at this rate, by 2050 the population is expected to reach 9 billion. Next to that, living standards grew exponentially in many countries and as result, global meat consumption has also increased rapidly, with serious implications for the world’s climate. To feed all the current and future mouths, we will need to drastically re-think our approach to food production as we will need to produce almost twice as much food as we currently do with half the environmental footprint per calorie.

One possible solution? Insects.

 

Did you know that a grilled cricket tastes like a fried shrimp?

Humans have for centuries been eating insects and the nutritional benefits of eating bugs have been widely studied. For example, insects are rich sources of high-quality fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins such as zinc, copper and magnesium. They are also low in fat and high in protein. Small grasshoppers, for example, have as much protein as lean ground beef, but with less fat per gram; mealworms provide as much protein, vitamins, and minerals as fish and meat; and some caterpillars can contain more protein than a turkey leg. If you never ate insects and you are on a diet, now is the time to try out!

 

Although we know that consuming insects is safe and the current legal framework forces the sector to do additional testing and requires authorization from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) before being placed on the EU market [1]. And check this! The Novel Food Regulation will come into force in 2018 and then insects-based food will be sold in supermarkets as it already happens in France, the Netherlands and Belgium!

 

Bugs: our farmed animals’ favorite dish

Given the potential of insect-meal to provide an economically and ecologically sustainable source of proteins for animals, the EU recently authorized insect proteins to be used in fish feed as from 1st July 2017. This is a breakthrough, as it might pave the road for more ambitious policies that could ultimately authorize the use of insect proteins in other environmental-intensive sectors, such as in chicken, pigs and cows’ farming.

To feed farm animals, the European Union (EU) currently imports 40 million tons of crop proteins, primarily soya, each year. Protein levels in insect meal vary between 40 and 75%, depending on the species and substrate used. This makes insect meal comparable and in many cases superior to soybean meal (50%) and fishmeal (60-70%) [2]. At the same time, while soybean crops take up already 33% of all crop lands, insects-production takes up little space without requiring high-protein feed. This is very cost/efficient!

 

Schuttelaar & Partners

At Schuttelaar & Partners, we are not afraid of bugs! For many years, Schuttelaar & Partners has been a strong proponent of alternative green protein sources. Since 2014, we have been managing the secretariat of IPIFF - The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed - and further professionalized its communications and its public affairs activities. Schuttelaar & Partners has succeeded in expanding the membership base from five to more than thirty. Today, IPIFF is well known by European media and institutions as the leading voice for the insect breeders.

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[1] Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 on novel foods. [link here]

[2] Oonincx & de Boer (2012) Environmental Impact of the Production of Mealworms as a Protein Source for Humans – A Life Cycle Assessment. [link here]


For more information please contact Andrea Boccuni