Ÿnsect to expand protein development in Asia following insect tie-up with Lotte R&D
27 Apr 2023 --- France-based Ÿnsect is joining forces with the Lotte R&D Center, a Korean player in the tech industry, to accelerate the development of insect-based food in Asia. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed yesterday and signals the path forward for insect-based F&B in the region.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Anaïs Maury, VP of communication and public affairs director at Ÿnsect, says the partnership will focus on protein production from Tenebrio molitor larvae, commonly known as the mealworm.
“The ingredients produced from the mealworm can be used in various food applications. Our clients integrate insect protein into energy bars, shakes, cereals, burgers, etc. The mealworms are rich in protein, healthy fats, and other essential nutrients, making them a valuable ingredient for a wide range of food products.”
A growing appetite
Maury believes insect consumption is becoming increasingly appealing to consumers looking for sustainable and alternative protein sources that can be scaled and contribute to combating food insecurity. “As consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of traditional livestock farming, they are turning to alternative protein sources such as insects.”
“Insect proteins offer the best of both worlds: they are both sustainable, like plant-based proteins, and qualitative, like animal-based proteins. Moreover, insect proteins are natural and one-quarter of the world’s population consumes them often.”
Notably, insects require fewer resources, such as water, land, and feed, to produce the same amount of protein as traditional livestock. “Thus, to better understand consumers’ motivations to eat insects, Ÿnsect conducted with OnePoll in 2022 a survey in the Netherlands, France, the UK and the US. We found that 21% of Dutch consumers have eaten insect-based products and almost one in two (47%) say they are ready to do so. Ten percent said they are very motivated,” she details.
“Among the motivations for eating insect products, the desire to eat more sustainable products is cited by 47% of respondents, indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their awareness,” Maury adds.
When asked why technology is crucial to insect protein development, she replied by explaining that it enables efficient and scalable production.
“Insect protein can be produced in large quantities in a relatively small space, but it requires advanced technologies,” outlines Maury. “For example, Ÿnsect uses advanced automation, robots, data analytics, and biotechnology to optimize its insect production and improve product quality.”
A step forward in development
The agreement includes conducting joint research to develop insect-based food products, working together to increase knowledge of edible insects’ health claim, and conducting and sharing surveys on “insects in human food” among consumers in Europe and South Korea.
“The signing of this MOU is a major step forward in our development. We aim to accelerate our presence in high-value-added markets with natural, healthy and sustainable ingredients. Through Lotte R&D center, we now benefit from the support of a key player to better understand the different markets in which we are establishing ourselves across the Asian continent and thus be able to meet the demand for local proteins,” adds Guillaume Daoulas, Ÿnsect Food & Plant sales director.
Ÿnsect aims to accelerate its presence in high-value-added markets with natural, healthy and sustainable ingredients – this partnership is predicted to be a step in this direction.
Lee Gyeong Hweon, president of the Lotte R&D Center, believes that insect proteins are vital to meet our food and climate challenges, as Asia is already keen on insect-based foods for human nutrition.
What’s hopping on our plates?
The UN Population Division expects the world population to hit 9.7 billion in 2050 and around 10.3 billion by 2100. Moreover, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that food production must increase by 70% to meet the new demand.
In a 2011 report, the FAO highlighted that to feed the planet by 2050, we must produce 70% more ingredients with only 5% of available land.
The FAO already mentioned insects as a solution. Ten years later, with its industrial know-how and scientific knowledge, Ÿnsect began developing the human food market.
Notably, insect protein can help feed a growing world population and contribute to environmental sustainability goals. Still, the rise of plant-based diets and complications around halal and kosher certifications threaten to dilute the industry’s global impact.
On the regulatory front, insect protein innovators in the EU, Singapore and Vietnam are receiving governmental support as companies strive to develop increasingly attractive products for human and animal consumption. Last month, FoodIngredientsFirst spoke to Protenga and Cricket One. Singapore-based Protenga backs its choice of insect – the black soldier fly – as the best option for creating sustainable, circular nutrient cycles. Meanwhile, Vietnam-based Cricket One touts cricket as an abundant source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
A previous study by Maastricht University showed that mealworm proteins are as beneficial as milk proteins in digestion, nutrition, absorption, and muscle production.
Additionally, the protein content of insects is naturally high, requires 30 times less land, emits 40 times fewer CO2 emissions than beef, and uses 40 times less water than pork.
Further, a study from January revealed that 58% of people believe that insect consumption could become an alternative and sustainable source of protein and part of regular diets. However, research from the Open University of Catalonia, Spain, also found that more than four out of five surveyed individuals still need to prepare to make the step to add insects to their usual diets for now.
In the same month, FlyFeed, an international insect farming start-up from Estonia, said insect protein production could contribute to a circular economy.
By Elizabeth Green
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