5 innovative solutions in the insect protein industry: Staff Picked

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Insects can contribute to a nutritious, economical diet for both humans and animals, in addition to being essential crop and plant pollinators, efficient waste decomposers, and critical ecological regulators.

However, for this to occur, innovators must prioritise interacting with consumers to build trust and acceptance. Only 37% of European consumers, with differences across countries, would be willing to try new foods, according to the EIT Food Trust Report 2021. For instance, a Food Standards Agency survey in the UK found that just 26% of customers would be ready to attempt eating insects and that only 50% of consumers believed that eating insects was safe.

insect protein powders

Source: Bizarre foods

Although the precise nutritional makeup of insects varies depending on their species, food, and stage of the life cycle, they can nonetheless offer humans and other animals high-quality protein and nutrients that are on par with those found in meat and fish. Additionally, they are a good source of fibre and micronutrients including copper, iron, and magnesium. Since insects are a questionable food source in Europe, little is known regarding population susceptibility, and the risk of allergy from eating them varies substantially depending on the species consumed.

There are conflicting opinions on the topic and we would like to share an interesting request we received from one of our clients in this article.

“We are a biscuit company, active in the FMCG sector. Due to the increase of the price for animal proteins and the pressure of the consumer’s expectations, we would like to find a reliable partner to analyse the best alternative solution for our specific industrial process for biscuits manufacturing. A start-up who has found, tested, and received aggregation for the insect-based protein alternative manufacturing.”

Startup Scouting for Corporate Innovation with Novable

1. Entomo Farms

Entomo Farms was founded by the Goldin brothers. Since their earliest memories in South Africa, where they grew up, they have always felt a strong connection to nature. Mealtimes became spiritually meaningful times of appreciation for the food they shared and the resources that provided it to their table. Their mission is to make cricket-based meals the top choice for those looking for high-quality, sustainable protein through product excellence and education.

Why crickets? Essential nutrients are provided by cricket powder for optimum growth, development, and daily performance. It has all nine necessary amino acids, double the amount of protein as beef, is a good source of calcium and iron, provides more than four times as much B12 as beef, etc. Moreover, cricket farming uses a lot less resources than more traditional livestock. Insects in general use a lot less space and water than raising cattle, and they release fewer greenhouse gases and ammonia.

2. Livin Farms

Livin Farms combine scalable technological solutions with insect biology to produce a range of products derived from insects. Fully automated insect factories can be built using a very flexible and scalable system, depending on the scale and requirements. Their factories are perfect for co-location in feed or food production sites with organic by-products available.

3. Ynsect

Ynsect is the world leader producer of insect-based substances for the nourishment of animals, people, and plants. Their mission is to make a more environmentally friendly and nutrient-dense alternative to traditional animal protein sources. “Our food systems have reached a point of no return. Food and fertilisers are essential, but the quality of these must be up to the challenge: that of producing better.”

Beetles enable the development of delectable, healthful foods that improve microbiota and cholesterol. They can be used in their whole, down to their droppings, as they are packed with high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

startup scouting for corporate innovation

4. FarmInsect

“Feeding the future. Closing the circles” is FarmInsect’s mission. Saving the world is a worthy objective, but too vague and broad for a firm according to the founders. Therefore, they set a similar goal: to replace soy and fishmeal in the EU within 10 years of starting the business. This will improve the sustainability of agriculture while also contributing to leaving this planet in better conditions for coming generations.

“What are the biggest climate killers?” is the question that initiated everything. It is now well-known that agriculture is one of the main sources of CO2 emissions. Insects were allowed as animal feed in the EU in 2017, and right after that, it became clear to the founders the difference they could have made by pursuing this business idea. Check out the two case studies on their website!

5. Nasekomo

Nasekomo team is driven by 3 main values

  • Don’t be afraid to explore new pathways to sustainability
  • Constantly seek ways to reinvent themselves and their business
  • Knowing that each of them is part of the solution

They developed an in-house technology that is both scalable and extremely cost-efficient. Their R&d department works tirelessly both independently and in collaboration with academic institutions and business partners to make a difference in the insect industry.

Their products range from whole dried larvas, defatted protein meal, insect oil, organic certified insect fertiliser, and black soldier fly eggs.

Is this the future?

Insect production and consumption as food are thought to be exceptionally efficient due to their high feed conversion efficiency. Insects can typically convert 2 kilograms of feed into 1 kg of insect mass, but calves need about 8 kg of feed to gain 1 kg of body weight. This indicates that greenhouse gas emissions by the majority of insects are much lower than those by conventional cattle when considerations like the resources needed for farming and production arrangements are taken into account.

Additionally, insects can be raised in controlled surroundings and require far less space and water than traditional livestock. For instance, per kg of weight acquired, pigs can release up to 100 times more greenhouse emissions than mealworms. The circular economy can also be enhanced by feeding insects biowaste, such as compostable waste and food scraps. This “waste” can be converted by insects into high-quality protein that is then reintroduced into the system as food and feed. 

Insects can offer a low-cost and wholesome source of protein for families or communities struggling with food security issues. n both rich and emerging countries, insect farming and harvesting can offer entrepreneurial prospects, and the European Union’s recent approval of innovative foods may open up additional doors for innovation in this field.

A widespread myth about eating insects is that people only do so when they are starving, but in most cases where they are a staple in local cuisines, people eat insects for their flavour rather than because there are no other food options. Some bug species are frequently offered as an expensive delicacy in upscale restaurants, such as mopane caterpillars in southern Africa.

What is your opinion on the topic? Would you buy insect-based biscuits? Share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn!

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