Europe looks to encourage insect consumption

18 Jan 2021

Mealworm burgers may soon be on the menu as the European Food Safety Authority recently approved yellow mealworms as safe for human consumption. This determination is expected to lead to EU-wide approval of the insect as fit for sale across the continent, but the European Commission will first need to add its endorsement.

Mealworms are likely to be just the first species to earn a seal of approval from European regulatory bodies. Fifteen other insect species, including locusts, crickets and grasshoppers are subject to a safety assessment by the food safety authority. Should the insect industry gain government endorsement for its protein products, the final step to mass commercialization will similarly be a final authorization from Brussels for the sale of insects as a "novel food."

Europe looks to encourage insect consumption
Creative Commons License

Although insects are considered to be a novel food, they are already big business. The global edible insect market was $650 million in 2020 and is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.7% to reach $1.43 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. Investment in the space is also ramping up. Forbes reported that global investment in firms producing insects for human consumption rose from $31 million in 2016 to $1.3 billion in 2020.

While EU-wide approval for the consumption of mealworms is novel, insects have already been sold in supermarkets in Britain, Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands for years. These countries diverged from their European peers in their interpretation of a 1997 law that stated any food not eaten prior to that year should be authorized as “novel foods.” However, these countries determined that this definition was not applicable to animals used for food.

In countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, the approval of mealworms for human consumption will herald in a new era where these products are no longer banned from supermarket shelves.

Despite some countries’ more stringent restrictions on eating bugs, several of the largest insect startups reside in these geographies. Ÿnsect is a French mealworm company that has raised more funding than the rest of the global insect protein sector combined, according to Forbes. Smaller companies include Insnack in Berlin, Jimini’s and Agronutris in France, Essento in Switzerland and Entogourmet in Spain.

This interest in edible bugs is in line with the UN’s larger push to encourage the consumption of insects. According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, "eating insects can help tackle food insecurity." Part of the reason is due to the small environmental footprint generated by bugs. But perhaps more importantly, is the fact that insects are nutritious. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, “Gram for gram some insects may have similar energy contents and similar amounts (but not necessarily quality) of protein to meat and fish.”

With one species now declared safe for consumption and many more awaiting approval, it may not be long before insect protein proliferates in everything from baking flour to nutritional bars as people seek to bulk up on sustainable sources of protein in their diets.

Related news

USDA expands its definition of nitrates

USDA expands its definition of nitrates

15 Jan 2021

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will expand the definition of nitrates in May 2021 to prohibit products using any source of nitrates from using the statements “No Nitrate or Nitrite Added” and “Uncured....

Read more 
Belgium is officially declared free from African Swine Fever

Belgium is officially declared free from African Swine Fever

14 Jan 2021

Belgium officially earned a new status from the World Organization of Animal Health confirming the country is free from African Swine Fever (ASF). This updated status is the first time since September 2018 that the country has officially been declared ...

Read more 
UK to continue exporting agricultural products to EU

UK to continue exporting agricultural products to EU

8 Jan 2021

Despite the UK officially leaving the European Union, the island nation will still be able to continue exporting meat fish and dairy to the continent. Late last month, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) granted the UK Third ...

Read more 
Singapore becomes first country to approve lab-grown meat

Singapore becomes first country to approve lab-grown meat

4 Jan 2021

The Singapore Food Agency, the city state’s regulatory body for food, approved San Francisco startup Eat Just’s cell-based meat chicken product, paving the way for its sale in the country.

Read more 
The Cocoa Barometer report shows few improvements in cocoa industry

The Cocoa Barometer report shows few improvements in cocoa industry

17 Dec 2020

Despite 20 years of rhetoric from companies promising to undertake initiatives that will increase the standard of living for farmers in cocoa-producing countries as well as mitigate the environmental impacts associated with cocoa production in regions ...

Read more 
Chobani coconut yogurt is now Fair Trade certified

Chobani coconut yogurt is now Fair Trade certified

16 Dec 2020

Greek yogurt maker Chobani announced that its coconut yogurt blends are now made with Fair Trade Certified coconuts, saying that it is the first national brand to earn this certification for a coconut blend in the yogurt aisle. The Fair Trade Certified...

Read more 
Finnish coffee brand Meira launches a bio-based sustainable cup

Finnish coffee brand Meira launches a bio-based sustainable cup

11 Dec 2020

Helsinki-based coffee roaster Meira released a new line of coffee called Vallilan Paahtimo with the aim of offering a more sustainable cup of coffee – both inside and out. The coffee is a single-origin, sustainably grown variety that is then packaged i...

Read more 
Swiss panel releases diet recommendations to support immunity during pandemic

Swiss panel releases diet recommendations to support immunity during pandemic

4 Nov 2020

It’s no secret that diet can aid in one’s overall health, but an expert panel in collaboration with the Swiss Society of Nutrition has defined a particular cocktail of micronutrients to support a well-functioning immune system with a special focus on C...

Read more 
In Ireland, Subway’s sandwich rolls are not legally bread

In Ireland, Subway’s sandwich rolls are not legally bread

13 Oct 2020

The Irish Supreme Court ruled that Subway bread is not legally considered as such. Instead, its sugar content, which is five times above what Irish law specifies as the acceptable threshold for bread, lands the company’s sandwich rolls in the confectio...

Read more 
U.K. begins exporting beef to the U.S. for the first time since 1996

U.K. begins exporting beef to the U.S. for the first time since 1996

12 Oct 2020

After over two decades of prohibiting the importation of beef into the U.S. from the U.K., the government of the United States lifted the ban this October to allow for U.K. beef producers to trade across The Pond.

Read more