“Insect appeal to gain ground in 2021,” says IPIFF
05 Feb 2021 --- As insect food and feed markets are forecast for growth this year, the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) speaks with FoodIngredientsFirst about the advantages of entomophagy, COVID-19 challenges and how European insect producers have managed to recover faster than expected.
Christophe Derrien, IPIFF secretary-general, says the recent EU approval for yellow mealworm for human consumption is a “key milestone” for the sector.
“This ruling will likely pave the way for the EU-wide authorization of the products covered by this opinion and is also expected to act as an enabler for the other applications presently evaluated by the EU risk assessor,” Derrien notes.
As indicated in a report launched by Barclays, he also flags that the insect protein market could be worth up to US$8 billion by 2030.
Like other food sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic posed numerous challenges to insect producers in Europe and around the globe.
“Being composed of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and ‘newly established’ businesses, the insect production activities have been facing some disruptions as a consequence of this unprecedented crisis,” comments Derrien.
The strict measures imposed by national governments have had repercussions on the sector and its actors on different occasions, he recalls.
Bastien Rabastens, IPIFF executive committee member in charge of food matters, says that the various restrictive sanitary measures led to a drop in demand in the first phases of the pandemic.
Learning from its customers’ feedback, IPIFF is hopeful that 2021 will be a year full of developments, exchanges and new products.
“A lot of food companies have put their new product development activities on hold due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic period,” adds Marloes Martens, IPIFF vice-chair of the IPIFF working group on food safety.
“However, thanks to growing consumer awareness and the positive coverage of edible insects, European insect producers managed to recover faster than expected.”
Supply and demand
According to Christian Bärtsch, IPIFF executive committee member in charge of communication, supply has been assured thanks to the local production of insects and their derived ingredients.
“On the demand side, we noticed that consumers had fewer opportunities to try our new products, particularly due to the closure of restaurants and local merchants,” he states.
Fortunately, this was compensated by new deals with retailers, which have been eager to bring nutritious products closer to European consumers.
“Especially in the light of the first EFSA opinion, we positively view the future – as consumers are continuing to shift toward local, circular and sustainable foods.”
Insects catch European attention
European consumers’ attitude around food is gradually changing – while the demand for a high protein targeted nutrition food is also growing, reveals Derrien.
“Insects are catching the attention of the European consumers. Also, their nutritional benefits make them valuable in various formulations. Insects contain diverse vitamins, fibers, as well as relevant amino acids necessary in both human and animal food.”
“Being part of the market for edible insects, we must continue our work to educate the European population to understand and eat insects,” he urges.
To do this, IPIFF is working on “entertaining, close and friendly” communication to convey the advantages of entomophagy.
In 2021, IPIFF will remain focused on its initial objectives to offer a range of products that are ever more tasty, healthy, and with a low environmental impact, highlights Rabastens.
Moreover, Bärtsch adds that the edible insect sector is developing formulations that will meet the nutritional needs of consumers while also considering their environmental concerns.
“Challenges when formulating insect-proteins may be currently the high ingredient price – which insect producers are trying to overcome by increasing production capacity,” he notes.
Last month, FoodIngredientsFirst published a report on trending alternative proteins. The IPIFF said that insects could be a viable solution for protein-rich products.
By Elizabeth Green
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