Edible insects an alternative protein source
LONDON — The world’s largest edible cricket production facility recently wrapped up construction in London and snagged a federal grant of up to $8.5 million. Aspire Foods aims to fill a reputed multi-billion-dollar market demand for the juicy insects as an alternative source of protein to feed both humans and animals.
The company’s first brood of incubated crickets was on schedule to be ready for processing into food about a month after the company hosted a June 27 funding announcement with Trudeau government representatives.
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada touts insect-based protein as an “opportunity … to more sustainably meet global demand for food.” While relatively new for Canadian agriculture, the department says that bugs can be produced with less water, energy and space than other food animals. Pound per pound, producing cricket protein creates 40% less greenhouse gas than farmed salmon and organic chicken and turkey, according to research conducted by Aspire.
Alongside this low environmental footprint, Aspire’s London facility is capable of producing “high volumes of nutritious food,” the federal department says. The London Free Press reported the plant’s “eventual” output as 13 million kilograms annually.
The global market for pet food exceeds US$90 billion, and global demand for edible insects for human consumption is forecast to be worth more than US$8 billion in the next decade.
“I grew up eating crickets in my porridge as a kid because they bring so much protein,” London West MP Arielle Kayabaga observed during the afternoon announcement, as quoted by the Free Press.
“Aspire is re-imagining what it means to sustainably produce food, and how smart technology can turn that vision into a reality,” said Kayabaga’s fellow Liberal MP Franics Drouin, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The new facility “will help further establish London’s reputation as a hub for cutting-edge technology, strongly contributing to Ontario and Canada’s position as an innovator in agriculture and agri-food,” he said.
Aspire also runs a research and development facility in Austin, Texas.
“A growing population and increasing demand for food and material requires sustainable, scalable solutions that keep our world healthy,” company co-founder and CEO Mohammed Ashour said.
Five McGill University students formed Aspire in 2013. They launched the firm after the team won the $1 million U.S. Hult Prize that year.