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Is Insect Eating the Future for UK Food Sustainability?

Entomophagy (the rise of eating insects in a daily diet) has had recent focus from the media in the last 12 months - GCL asks could it be on the menu soon?

Halloween may have passed but the UK could face a creepy crawly scare in the 5 to 10 years. Entomophagy (the rise of eating insects in a daily diet) has had recent focus from the media in the last 12 months in terms of sustainability.

Each year around 70 million people are adding to the world’s population with unsustainable means of production. By 2050, our current population of 7.9 billion people will double. This means that we need to produce twice as much food as we currently do to satisfy our unquenchable diets.  In ten years, time, FSA envisions that we  will consume  90% less beef than current practises. In contrast,  our consumption rate of beans and pulses  would increase fivefold.  This has caused scientists to look at new sustainable protein sources such as insects.

Sustainability On Insect Eating

The worldwide rearing of livestock accounts for a whopping 18% of all greenhouse gases which equates to more than all forms of transportation – 13%. In terms of beef production, 1 kg of protein from beef emits 2.85kg of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. In comparison to insects, 1kg of insect protein only produces 1g.  This is because insects require just a fraction of the land, water and feed in comparison to traditional livestock, for the same amount of protein.  Plus, they are able to be farmed in virtually any climate or environment.

Some literature says that if a vegan’s motivation is to cut animal suffering then the movement into entomophagy should appeal to this demographic. The suffering that is required to bring “humane” foods to our plate is just as palpable as the suffering of animals used in harvesting such as mice, bunnies and insects.

In addition, with the increasing concerns around the use of palm oil, food manufacturers could investigate the insect oil industry. This oil has no impact on flavour but would be much more nutritionally dense than palm oil, as well as being argued healthier for the environment.

Products available on the market

There are over 2,000 species of edible insects, each with their own taste and texture.

Insects are complete protein, that contain all the nine essential amino acids.

GCL’s favourite is Wahaca’s Chocolate Brownie

Consumer Perceptions.

There is one major issue with driving the trend of insect eating and that is current consumer perceptions. 37% of consumers perceive the practise as disgusting because of the portrayal of clawing insects in the media.

However, consumers are more likely to opt for something that is perceived as trendy than environmental motivations. As celebrity endorsements are key influences who shape the progress of a growing trend, consumers will experiment.  Ambassadors include Angelina Jolie and Justin Timberlake.  This shows that the food industry must switch the message from saying the environment to pleasurable experiences.

Potential Issues with Insect Eating

Insects have   traditionally been collected, prepared and sold by people who hold little economic or political power. Commoditising insects as food  would contribute significantly to the livelihoods of some of the world’s marginalised communities.

As with all food chains, transparency of ingredients is key. The Food People’s  2018/2019 food predictions show that consideration of our eating practices is at the core of everything that we do. If ethical insect food becomes mainstream, then consumers should be reminded where the trend has emerged from and where the products are sourced. This means ethical and economical sourcing must be established before this trend becomes mainstream.

At GCL, we enjoy scoping out what the latest trends are and incorporating them into our NPD programme. Get in touch to see how GCL is experimenting with insect based ingredients for your consumer.

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October 31, 2018