Edible insects are consumed across various regions as they are rich in various nutrients such as amino acids and essential minerals. Wasps, ants, bees, beetles, scale insects, cockroaches, flies, termites, crickets, and grasshoppers are some edible insects. They are also used across the aquaculture and poultry industries. Edible insects are roasted and dried to produce various low-calorie and nutritious food and beverage products. Increasing farming of insects owing to minimum investment along with rising cases of livestock diseases is making consumers opt for safe and economical edible insect products. Edible insects evolved as an alternative food source, supporting food security initiatives across the globe. Also, the potential nutritional benefits offered by edible insects is propelling the market penetration in a wide spectrum of the population.
The global edible insects market size was worth US$ YY billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach US$ YY billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of YY % during the forecast period (2022-2029).
Market Dynamics: Growing demand for alternative protein sources is driving the growth of the market
The growing need for alternate protein sources owing to health concerns such as increased cholesterol levels, risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases associated with meat consumption is driving the global edible insect’s market. Furthermore, animal rearing for meat is turning into an unsustainable practice owing to the rising utilization of antibiotics, economic and environmental concerns. Insect rearing, on the other hand, is considered a sustainable and environment-friendly practice. According to the U.S. National Institute for health’s review of 2017, currently, the protein demand for the 7.3 billion inhabitants of the world is approximately 202 million tons globally. Breeding of insects offers environmental advantages because of low greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and land use impacts. To produce the same amount of protein as cattle, crickets need 12x less feed, 15x less land, 2000x less water, and produce 100x fewer greenhouse gasses. Crickets can be fed food waste, like banana peels or rice bran. Further, insect meals could also replace some of the expensive ingredients, such as soybeans and fishmeal, fed to farm animals, potentially lowering the cost of livestock products and freeing up feed crops for human consumption. As a bonus, bugs can be fed with food scraps and animal manure, so insect farms could increase the world’s protein supply while reducing and recycling waste.
Currently, most of the protein comes from livestock meat. ~70% of agricultural land and 30% of the total land on earth is used to raise livestock to meet the protein need. Thus, it is neither feasible nor sustainable to expand the amount of land needed for livestock production. Moreover, the global livestock industry already takes an enormous toll on the environment, gobbling up land and water. This industry emits more greenhouse gases than planes, trains and automobiles combined. Thus, it is vital to reconsider the current eating habits, and the adoption of high-quality alternative protein sources, such as edible insects, has become of utmost significance. This is expected to reduce pollution, habitat destruction, and abuse of natural resources in the long run.
On the other hand, many edible insects/arthropods bear pathogenic viruses like bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and nematodes and are vectors for a significant number of zoonotic diseases like malaria, Lyme disease etc. Moreover, insects are vulnerable to parasitic attacks like fungi and consumption of such insects can be harmful to human health. These are the factors restricting consumer preference towards insect consumption.
Insect based flour is being used as an ingredient in the food industry to add nutritional value to the product
Based on application, the flour segment is anticipated to hold a significant market share. The most popular form of industrially reared edible insect consumption is flour or powder made from dried and ground insects, which is now being used as a baking ingredient. Insect based flour is proven to be a possible ingredient in crackers, breads and cereals, which could help in improving the nutritional value of wheat-based foods while also creating consumer-friendly insect goods. According to studies, wheat bread with 10% cricket flour has a much better nutritional profile in terms of protein, essential amino acids, fatty acid composition compared to non-insect rich bread. These advantages are obtained in the case of mealworm flour and 3D cereal-based snack printing technology.
The protein bars segment is anticipated to hold a significant market share owing to the growing demand for high-quality protein and amino acid sources. Also, increasing competition in the market is making manufacturers opt for high quality, economical, easily available, and nutrition-rich ingredients to gain a competitive edge in the global market. The market is also gaining strength owing to rising health and fitness trends, Edible insects are widely used in manufacturing low calorie and high protein bars to boost muscle growth. Their easy solubility, neutral taste, and performance-enhancing characteristics make it compatible with various kinds of protein bar products which is likely to boost edible insects market demand.
Asia-Pacific accounts for the largest share in the edible insect’s market due to the tradition of practicing entomology in China
Asia- Pacific dominates the market for edible insects, with China being the largest shareholder of the market. As China is the native practitioner of entomology, edible insects are now considered an important cuisine in this country. In China, currently, 324 species of insects from 11 orders are documented that are either edible or associated with entomology which includes the common edible species, some less commonly consumed species and some medicinal insects. However, only approximately 10 to 20 types of insects are regularly consumed.
North America is expected to hold a significant market revenue share of YY% in the year 2020, owing to the increasing population, increase in demand for protein-rich food, increase in awareness regarding the food habits, increase in awareness regarding the benefits of taking insect food, increase in insect harvesting and presence of more number of insect food manufacturers continues to expand its market.
The global edible insects market is highly fragmented and competitive with key players like ProtiFarm Holding NV, EntomoFarms, Haocheng Mealworms, Inc., Chapul, Insects SAS, Deli Bugs Ltd., Hargol FoodTech, Bitty Foods, All Things Bugs, LLC, and Tiny Farms. These companies adopted the strategy of acquisitions, mergers, partnerships and investment in multiple sectors. To capitalize on emerging trends towards adopting high protein and low-fat products, industry players are increasingly investing in R&D. To raise understanding of the potential benefits of edible insects, manufacturers are developing novel techniques for producing edible insect products and investing in marketing. For instance, in March 2020 Sysco partnered with Entosense to add edible insects to its product line as protein is arguably one of the sectors being explored the most, as consumers clamor for more plant-based, sustainable, and healthy options that make them feel good both inside and out. In October 2018, Entomo Farms that turns crickets into snacks has announced that it is planning to expand its business. The company is planning to increase its insect-based food catches business worldwide. In July 2018, Seek Food an American firm introduced a new line of cricket-based flours. The company is trying to enter the edible insect's industry by introducing high purity and quality product lineup. This will help the company to capitalize on the growing edible insects market in the U.S., diversify its product portfolio, and gain brand recognition. In November 2018, Sainsbury became the first supermarket in the UK to launch an edible insect product range. The company has signed a deal with snack manufacturing startup Eat Grub to sell smoky BBQ flavored roasted crickets across 250 of its UK stores. This move will help Sainsbury to enter the edible insect market and gain maximum business share.
COVID-19 Impact: Pandemic had a positive impact on the global edible insects market
In May 2020, considering that the virus was transmitted from animals, Wuhan's municipal government banned breeding, hunting, and consuming wild animals for five years. This is expected to trigger restrictions on the consumption of certain animals and related products across various cities and countries across the world. This further will increase the shortage of meat products and accelerate the demand for alternative substitutes like edible insects and plant-based products.
Moreover, increasing health & wellness trends and rising health awareness, such as the risk of viral infections, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, disorders of bone and calcium balance, and increased risk of certain cancer associated with the long-term use of animal proteins, has created the traction for sustainable protein sources like edible insects that can be cost-effectively reared on waste feed and water. To capture this traction in the edible insect's industry, many vendors are focusing on enhancing their production capacities, processes, end products, and receiving funds from investors. For instance, in March 2020, the Thai Union Group (Thailand) announced that it is expected to invest ~USD 30 million in alternative proteins and other food tech innovations. The company also invested an undisclosed amount in an insect protein start-up, Flying Spark (Israel). This is expected to enhance the company’s presence in the edible insects market in the coming years. In March 2020, Protix BV, an insect farmer that breeds larvae from the black soldier fly and processes them into ingredients like proteins and lipids, announced that it raised funds (undisclosed amount) from Rabo Corporate to enhance its insect production facility in the Netherlands. In May 2020, Insecta Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based start-up dealing with the extraction of valuable biomaterials from insects, received a second investment from Trendlines Agrifood Fund Pte. Ltd. (the Fund of The Trendlines Group Ltd.). This is expected to increase the value and diversify the products attained from food waste valorization.
The European Food Safety Authority is expected to approve the sale of insects, including ground mealworms, lesser mealworms, locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers for human consumption (Source: IPIFF). Currently, only a few EU countries use insect-based products as protein diets. The region-wide approval is projected to bring a raft of edible insects for sale across European countries, driving the demand for edible insects. This approval will provide immense opportunities for companies operating in the edible insect's space. Thus, the rising preference for alternative proteins over animal proteins as a rich source of protein & immunity booster during the current global outbreak of COVID-19 has created a new wave of interest in the edible insects market.
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