Speakers representing research consultants Mintel, Bingham and Jones and Wageningen University highlighted their potential in UK and European food and drink categories.
Mintel’s director of innovation and insight David Jago told delegates of the US commercial success of a snack bar made from ground up crickets.
“They have a good flavour profile and you would not know they were made from insects,” he said.
“There is room for products like that in Europe and here in the UK.”
Sense of adventure
A key factor in the growing interest in edible insects was not their strong environmental credentials but the category’s appeal to younger consumers’ sense of adventure, said Jago.
David Jones, from Bingham & Jones, said it was only a matter of time before insects for human consumption became more widely available in the UK and Europe.
“We don’t know if it [insects for human consumption] is the futur,” said Jones. “But we know it has a future.
“Insects are becoming more accepted – it is a matter of time.”
Bingham & Jones noted “serious investment” being made into the category, which was enjoying growing interest from consumers.
“They are an important way of getting protein into the digestive business.”
Jones added that it would be interesting to see which was the first UK retailer to stock insect protein. “And whether the FSA [Food Standards Agency] will allow it.”
Professor Arnold van Huis, tropical entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said interest among western consumers had grown significantly just in the past five years.
“About 230 companies worldwide are now working with edible insects,” said van Huis.
Species of insects eaten by humans in the tropics totalled about 2,000, he added.
Food Manufacture’s innovation conference – New Frontiers in Food and Drink – was staged at etc. venues St. Pauls, London on Thursday March 17.
The event was chaired by Steve Osborn – director of the Aurora Ceres Partnership – and sponsored by Lloyds Bank and legal specialist Roythornes.
Watch out for more news, views and video interviews from the cutting edge of food and drink innovation next week on FoodManufacture.co.uk