Insect protein market heats up in APAC region

12 Jun 2023

Packed with superfood-level nutritional benefits and with a neutral taste, Asian brands are using insect protein in finished products, such as Thailand’s Proothie, which makes cricket protein granola bars.

Insects like crickets have become a popular alternative to both animal and plant-based proteins, with increasing opportunities for growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Insect protein market heats up in APAC region
© AdobeStock/New Africa

Insect farming is big in Asia, and the area’s advanced manufacturing technology lowers production costs. Insects are also familiar as food to consumers, as some insects have been considered a delicacy in certain Asian cultures for centuries.

But the sector has faced challenges. While Asian consumers are accustomed to occasionally including insects in their diets, the concept of using insects as an alternative to traditional animal protein has been slower to catch on. Nevertheless, in Asia, brands and suppliers are beginning to gain ground in the region through snack products.

Thailand-based Proothie offers cricket granola protein bars, cricket powder and a plant fertilizer, selling primarily in Japan and Thailand. Another Thai firm, Cric-Cro, makes a crispy brownie using 100% cricket powder.

Suppliers also target the animal feed market. In Singapore, Protenga supplies protein and oil made from insects for use in feed and fertilizer. It also manufactures insect farming equipment that recaptures nutrients from organic waste and turns it into valuable insect protein.

Cricket One in Vietnam and Thai Ento Food in Thailand also supply cricket-based high protein powder as an ingredient for food, beverages, pet food and cosmetics.

French insect supplier inks deal with Korean tech firm

France-based insect production startup Ÿnsect made a deal in April with Korean tech company Lotte R&D Center. The pair signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct joint research on developing insect-based food products for customers in Europe and South Korea.

“Through Lotte R&D Center, we now benefit from the support of a key player to better understand the different markets in which we are establishing ourselves across the Asian continent and thus be able to meet the demand for local proteins,” said Guillaume Daoulas, Ÿnsect food and plant sales director.

The companies will also work to educate consumers about the health benefits of insects and conduct surveys on consumer interest in insect-based products.

The demand for alternative, high quality protein continues to increase around the world. The production of animal-based protein negatively impacts the environment and contributes to climate change, and the plant-based protein industry is doing its best to function as an equal substitution.

But protein from insects is another viable option because many insects contain valuable nutrition like amino acids, iron, magnesium, and calcium. In 2022, the global insect protein market was valued at $700 million, and is projected to climb to $6.8 billion by 2032.

Crickets have been used as an ingredient in snack products for North American and European brands; Chirps manufactures tortilla chips, Small Giants makes a variety of crackers, Exo Bar makes protein bars, Crunchy Critters makes trail mix and Näak makes protein powder, all from a base of crickets.

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