Edible insects might be the future of protein

Edible Insects

Australia may become a player in the billion-dollar global edible insect industry.

Insects for breakfast, anyone?

Eating bugs may not sound appealing at first, but this new research may change your mind.

Australia can become a player in the billion-dollar global edible insect industry, producing nutritious, sustainable, and ethical products to support global food security, according to a new roadmap by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

“The worldwide edible insect market is expected to reach $1.4 billion AUD in value by 2023. Europe and the United States of America lead the western world market, with more than 400 edible-insect-related businesses in operation,” CSIRO researcher and report co-author, Dr Ponce Reyes said.

“Insects have high-value nutritional profiles, and are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, folic acid and vitamins B12, C and E.They are also complementary to our existing diets because they are a healthy, environmentally friendly, and a rich source of alternative proteins,” Dr Ponce Reyes said.

More than 2,100 insect species are currently eaten by two billion people from 130 countries, including 60 native insect species traditionally consumed by First Nations Peoples in Australia. Iconic Australian species include witjuti (also known as witchetty) grubs, bogong moths, honey pot ants and green tree ants.

“The roadmap draws on the expertise of Australian and international scientists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, insect farmers, food processing industry leaders and chefs, to set out the challenges and opportunities presented by one of the world’s richest sources of protein and other micronutrients,” CSIRO entomologist and report co-author, Dr Lessard said.

“Australia has a high diversity of native insects. Working with First Nations enterprises, many species have the potential to be sustainably harvested or grown in low impact farms, to be turned into new and delicious Australian foods for us and our pets.”

“Commercial insect farming is considered to have a low environmental footprint, requiring minimal feed, water, energy, and land resources – factors of importance to the modern health and ethically-conscious consumer,” Dr Lessard said.

The global population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, fuelling the demand for protein. Current food systems cannot meet the global challenge of producing enough nutritious, high-protein food for the world’s growing population. 

Chair of the Insect Protein Association of Australia, Ms Olympia Yarger, said: “This roadmap provides meaningful steps forward for the guidance of new research and investment priorities that will enable insects to become a more sustainable and high-value part of the modern Australian diet.”

Learn more in the CSRIO Edible Insects Report.

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