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What’s all the buzz about the Aussie edible insects sector?

  • The global edible bugs industry is tipped to grow to $1.4 billion in value by 2023.
  • 2022 tipped to be the year of the edible insects in Australia as the sector is tipped to grow to $10m per annum target over the next five years.
  • More than 56% of Aussie adults surveyed reported they would be ‘likely’ to eat insects in the future.

Aussies are swapping beetroot for beetles at an increasing rate as the country migrates towards a willingness to try insects like much of the rest of the world, which is leading to a growing edible insect market.

CSIRO research found that the global edible insect industry is tipped to grow to $1.4 billion in value by 2023.

Australia’s bustling bug sector is tipped to fly towards $10 million per annum over the next five years, in a paradigm shift linked concerns over the environmental cost of food, and greater interest in adopting healthy dietary habits.

Although entomophagy is not overwhelmingly practised in the country, some pundits expect that shift to really flutter in 2022 which is being labelled be the year of the edible insects in Australia.

Research suggests that if just one meat-based meal a week is replaced with one that uses crickets as a source of protein, more than 100,000 litres of drinking water a year can be saved.

And edible insects are emerging as an important future food group offering a nutritious protein source that is more sustainable to produce by using less land, energy, and water consumption.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, demand for protein is rising and is poised to increase by 76% by 2050. By then, there will be another 2 billion people on the planet, which means 60-70% more food will be needed for the growing population.

Shifting the Aussie protein production mix to match projected global consumption for high-value proteins is expected to create an additional $55 billion in 2025. The country’s edible insect industry is expected to crawl along with it.

A January 2022 RMIT University study found that 56.2% of Aussie adults surveyed reported they would be “likely” to eat insects in the future, a figure which increased to 82.2% among those who had already tried them.

Of those surveyed, 35% had previously tried eating insects, most commonly crickets and grasshoppers, and of those who had not tried insects, only 16% reported “disgust” and said they would not be hosting an insect banquet anytime soon.

Although insects are not a common feature on Australian menus, there are some 60 species that have been recorded as a traditional food source for Indigenous Australians, including witjuti grubs, the endangered bogong moths, and honey pot ants.

As previously reported by Grafa, the Australian bogong moth has now been listed as endangered on the global red list of threatened species, compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

For those less squeamish and are willing to give edible bugs a go, insect-based flours such as bread and biscuits could be a start.

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