Alternative Protein: Raising Edible Insects In Canada
Alternative protein sources have been growing year after year, with the food and beverage processing industry constantly investing in more sustainable ingredient sourcing.
But will edible insects be adopted by the market like the ever-popular almond milk?
While we don’t see cricket burgers dominating Mickey-D's menus just yet, the edible insect market is definitely one for food engineers to watch out for.
Canada's food and beverage processing industry has cottoned onto the trend, following leading countries like Asia, Africa, and Latin America, that have been raising edible insects for years. Companies like Aspire and Maple Leaf, which recently invested in edible insect producer, Entomo Farms, are driving the adoption of edible insect raising.
The government of Canada is backing this new bug craze by investing C$8.5 million in this new farming venture. The Canadian government believes this investment will help create a competitive and sustainable agriculture and agri-food industry.
Aspire has mainly focused on edible insects as pet food and admitted that widespread adoption for human consumption is not on the cards anytime soon. So while crickets as food will not replace traditional protein sources such as meat, poultry, and dairy anytime soon in Canada, edible insects do offer exciting opportunities as an alternative protein source.
Edible insects as an alternative protein source
Edible insects offer an alternative source of nutrient-rich proteins. With food scarcity, a growing concern, insects such as crickets used for food or crispy beetles served up as snacks could be a new delicacy.
Not only do other countries already adopt insect farming as a credible and tasty food source, but insect raising is also significant for the environment because less land is used for farming, and there are lower emissions of greenhouse gases.
But what impact will edible insects have on Canada's food and beverage processing industry?
Science Direct published a journal looking at “Edible Insects, a valuable protein source from ancient to modern times”, listing multiple applications for edible insects such as:
- Edible insect raising can be used in traditional food and beverage processing as a possible feed source (rather than grains).
- Food additives can be extracted from insects, such as colourants and dyes.
- Insects can be ground into powders to be used in protein supplements, beverages, and energy bars.
- Minced, cooked insects are also being used to formulate meat-like foods such as hamburgers, meatballs, and sausages.
New career opportunities for food and beverage processing professionals
As new production techniques are developed for insect processing, new job opportunities will open for highly technical food and beverage processing professionals. As the adoption of edible insects becomes mainstream, just like tofu, the demand for food and safety professionals, food engineers, and technically skilled food production workers will grow.
Food safety professionals will need to develop regulations for processing edible insects. Food engineers will be involved in ingredient sourcing and finding new methods for edible insect production to ensure its flavour and preserve the insects' nutritional value.
New processing methods will need to be tested, and food and beverage manufacturing experts that are well-versed in processing methods that involve heat treatments like pasteurisation and commercial sterilisation will be in demand.
If crickets, beetles, and worms as a food source strike your interest, perhaps it's time to join the edible insect processing industry and that's where we can help you.
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