Ingredient Focus – Insects in packaged food, drinks and pet food

September 2018

Executive summary

There is an increasing body of literature pointing to the valuable role of insects in the diets of humans and animals. With their high nutritious content of protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and fatty acid, insects might just be the "superfood" of the future.

Aside from the potential health benefits, entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, is also good for the planet due to the efficiency of insects in converting plant protein into animal protein, and to the efficient and sustainable methods that are used to farm and harvest them.

Consumed since millennia in countries such as Mexico and Thailand, insects are now increasingly being used as ingredients in food in Western countries. As suggested by Mintel (2018), it may be easier to introduce insects on certain markets as "invisible" ingredients, under the form of flours, powders, protein extracts, or gelling agents.

Insects may not be compatible with plant-based diets, although it remains to be seen how many vegetarians will make an exception for health and sustainability reasons.

More research is needed, for example to understand better allergies that can be caused by insects, particularly for people who are allergic to shellfish.

Over half of the insect-containing products launched from January 2004 to May 2018 were in the snack/cereal/energy bars category. Europe saw the most insect-containing product launches in the world, with a total of 35 products.

Introduction

Insects are the most diverse group of animals and can be found in nearly all environments. They include more than a million species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. Edible insects can be used for food and feed relatively easily: they can be processed into pastes or ground into meal, and their proteins can be extracted. Some species can also be consumed whole and even alive. (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2013).

Entomophagy is the consumption of insects by humans, a practice that is common in many countries around the world, predominantly in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is estimated that insects supplement the diets of approximately 2 billion people. Often caught in the wild, it is hard to have exact numbers. The most commonly eaten insect groups are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, leaf and planthoppers, scale insects and true bugs, termites and dragonflies (FAO, 2013).

While entomophagy is still a taboo in Western countries, the consumption of other invertebrates, such as molluscs, and other arthropods, such as crustaceans, is considered a delicacy. However, since it is impossible to eliminate insects completely from the human food chain, these are inadvertently present (thus consumed) in many foods, especially grainsFootnote 1.

Trends towards 2030 predict a steady population increase to 8.6 billion people, resulting in an even greater pressure on the environment. Scarcities of agricultural land, water, forest, fishery and nutrients are foreseen. Thus, for over a decade, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been recommending the use of insects as a food staple, for the following reasons:

Key demographic and nutritional indicators, by region
Region Population in 2017 – '000* Forecast population in 2025 – '000* Population density – persons per square kilometre, 2017 Average supply of food calories –calories per capita, 2017 Average supply of protein per day – grams per capita, 2017 Average supply of fat per day – grams per capita, 2017
East Asia & Pacific 2,313,581.5 2,412,977.2 163.2 2,785.4 78.2 74.7
Eastern Europe 425,715.0 428,824.5 17.5 3,300.0 99.5 109.3
Western Europe 423,005.4 432,083.0 113.6 3,523.5 109.6 145.2
Middle East & North Africa 360,193.6 414,536.1 46.1 2,712.3 71.7 60.1
North America 362,555.8 386,751.3 19.9 3,745.8 114.5 163.6
Latin America & Caribbean 646,775.8 698,467.2 31.8 3,052.6 85.6 98.5

Source: Euromonitor International, 2018
*Source: GlobalData Intelligence Center, 2019

There are several macro trends currently driving innovation in the food system, and ethical living, sustainability, and a higher demand for protein are at the top of the list. Since insects respond to these concerns, they are increasingly being considered as an important food source, even in Western countries.

Insect-containing product launch analysis

Based on a search in Mintel's Global New Products Database, 103 products containing insects as an ingredient have been launched around the world between January 2004 and May 2018Footnote 2. Most of these occurred in the food category with ninety-one products, while ten products were beverages and two were pet food products. About 90% of the products were new introductions (new products or new variety), and 10% were relaunches. The relaunches did not include any new product formulation.

Mexico experienced the most insect-containing product launches in the world during the 15-year review period, followed by the United States and Thailand; 65% of the launches worldwide happened in the last five years (from January 2014 to May 2018).

Insect-containing product launches by year
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Year Product launches
2004 3
2005 3
2006 7
2007 7
2008 5
2009 1
2010 1
2011 5
2012 0
2013 3
2014 11
2015 12
2016 19
2017 17
2018-May 9

Source: Mintel, 2018.

Insect-containing product launches by launch type, from January 2004 to May 2018
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  • New product: 76%
  • New variety/range extension: 14%
  • New packaging: 7%
  • Relaunch: 3%

Source: Mintel, 2018.

Insect-containing product launches by region and category, from January 2004 to May 2018
Region Food Drink Pet food
Europe 30 4 1
Asia-Pacific 26 3 0
Latin America 18 3 0
North America 17 0 1
Total products per category 91 10 2
Source: Mintel, 2018
Top five countries to launch insect-containing products, from January 2004 to May 2018
Country Number of products launched
Mexico 20
United States 17
Thailand 15
United Kingdom 11
France 6
Source: Mintel, 2018

Product launch by subcategory and ingredient

According to Mintel, over half of the 103 insect-containing products launched between January 2004 and May 2018 were in the snacks subcategory, while the second most popular food subcategory was sauces and seasonings. The types of beverages containing the most insect ingredients were sports and energy drinks, followed by alcoholic beverages. For pets, there was one product in the dry dog food subcategory and one in the dog snacks and treats subcategory.

Insect-containing product launches by subcategory, from January 2004 to May 2018
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  • Snacks: 48%
  • Sauces and seasonings: 12%
  • Bakery: 7%
  • Alcoholic beverages: 6%
  • Sugar and gum confectionery: 5%
  • Chocolate confectionery: 5%
  • Other: 17%

Source: Mintel, 2018.

The most popular insect ingredients in product launches were crickets, grasshoppers, silkworms, cricket flour and maguey worms. While cricket and cricket flour tend to be used mostly in snack/cereal/energy bars, grasshoppers and silkworms are more often found in the meat snacks category. The maguey worm, quite more rare and expensive, is used in the preparation of tequilaFootnote 3.

Insects are said to be incompatible with plant-based diets (such as vegan and vegetarian), since they are technically "meat". However, these diets are now being followed in a "flexible" manner by an increasing number of European and North American consumers. According to the founder of Crickstart, a Canadian insect-based food company (personal communication, 2018), many vegetarians are already making exceptions, given that insect-containing products respond to their concerns in terms of health, animal welfare and the environment. Moreover, insects have a significant advantage over plants for vegetarians, as they are an important source of B12, which is an essential vitamin that cannot be found in plants.

Insect ingredients used in products launched around the world, from January 2004 to May 2018
Ingredient Number of products launched Subcategory
Cricket 16
  • Snack/cereal/energy bars (6)
  • Other snacks (3)
  • Meat snacks (2)
  • Lollipops (1)
  • Pasta (1)
  • Cold cereals (1)
  • Non-individually wrapped chocolate pieces (1)
  • Meat pastes and pates (1)
Grasshopper 13
  • Meat snacks (7)
  • Seasonings (2)
  • Chocolate tablets (2)
  • Other sauces & seasonings (1)
  • Table sauces (1)
Silkworm 10
  • Meat snacks (6)
  • Energy drinks (3)
  • Meat products (1)
Cricket flour 10
  • Snack/cereal/energy bars (9)
  • Dog snacks and treats (1)
Maguey worm 9
  • Tequila (5)
  • Seasonings (2)
  • Other sauces and seasonings (2)
Acheta 6
  • Meat snacks (5)
  • Lollipops (1)
Mealworm 6
  • Meat snacks (2)
  • Other snacks (1)
  • Meat products (1)
  • Sandwich fillers/spreads (2)
Invertebrates and insects 6
  • Meat snacks (2)
  • Lollipops (1)
  • Dog food dry (1)
  • Non-individually wrapped chocolate pieces (1)
  • Hors d'oeuvres/canapés (1)
Chrysalis 4
  • Meat snacks (3)
  • Wet soup (1)
Buffalo worm flour 2
  • Pasta (2)
Other or unspecified 25
  • Meat snacks (4)
  • Seasonings (4)
  • Cakes, pastries and sweet goods (3)
  • Savoury biscuits/ crackers (2)
  • Pasta (1)
  • Lollipops (1)
  • Chocolate tablets (1)
  • Wheat and other grain-based snacks(1)
  • Instant noodles (1)
  • Beverage mixes (1)
  • Sandwiches/wraps (1)
  • Gin (1)
  • Bread and bread products (1)
  • Baking ingredients and mixes (1)
  • Seasonal chocolate (1)
Source: Mintel, 2018
Top preparation of insect ingredient used in products launched around the world, from January. 2004 to May 2018
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Preparation Products launched
Powdered 21
Extract 9
Whole 7
Dry 6
Dehydrated 6

Source: Mintel, 2018.

Product launch by region

Europe and Asia-Pacific experienced the most insect-containing product launches in the world during the 15‑year review period, followed by Latin America and North America. In all regions, the snacks subcategory saw the largest number of launches, except in Latin America, where sauces and seasonings was most popular.

Insect-containing product launches by region and subcategory, from January 2004 to May 2018
Sub-category Europe Asia-Pacific Latin America North America Total per sub-category
Snacks 14 19 6 10 49
Sauces and seasonings 0 1 11 0 12
Bakery 3 1 0 3 7
Alcoholic beverages 3 0 3 0 6
Sugar and gum confectionery 3 1 0 1 5
Chocolate confectionery 1 0 1 3 5
Sports and energy drinks 0 3 0 0 3
Savoury spreads 3 0 0 0 3
Processed fish, meat and egg products 1 1 0 0 2
Meals and meal centers 1 1 0 0 2
Pet food 1 0 0 1 2
Side dishes 3 1 0 0 4
Other beverages 1 0 0 0 1
Soup 0 1 0 0 1
Breakfast cereals 1 0 0 0 1
Total products per region 35 29 21 18 103
Source: Mintel, 2018

The growing snacking trend that can be observed around the world may provide an opportunity for insect-containing products as on-the-go solutions to displace formal meals. The "Other savoury snacks" included in the next table covers those snack products that are not included in the remaining savoury snacks subcategories, such as seaweed snacks, fish snacks, pork scratchings, and other meat products (including insect-containing products).

Historical and forecast retail sales of selected snacks subcategories, which may include insect-containing products (US$ millions and period growth)
Region Subcategory 2013 2017 CAGR* % 2013-2017 2018 2022 CAGR* % 2018-2022
Asia Pacific Other savoury snacks 6,502.8 8,530.1 7.0 9,137.5 12,100.2 7.3
Cereal bars 228.8 274.7 4.7 294.1 396.3 7.7
Energy bars 511.7 602.9 4.2 626.9 735.4 4.1
Australasia Other savoury snacks 37.8 55.4 10.0 58.5 70.4 4.7
Cereal bars 280.3 265.4 −1.4 265.9 275.4 0.9
Energy bars 46.3 97.0 20.3 105.3 145.3 8.4
Eastern Europe Other savoury snacks 313.5 374.1 4.5 393.1 532.7 7.9
Cereal bars 130.9 216.7 13.4 242.0 367.3 11.0
Energy bars 24.2 35.5 10.1 38.3 52.4 8.2
Latin America Other savoury snacks 341.7 491.2 9.5 526.5 690.8 7.0
Cereal bars 750.3 1,087.3 9.7 1,199.7 1,722.4 9.5
Energy bars 70.5 85.1 4.8 89.6 112.9 5.9
Middle East and Africa Other savoury snacks 72.6 103.8 9.3 114.5 167.4 10.0
Cereal bars 248.1 339.8 8.2 369.3 506.2 8.2
Energy bars 32.8 45.5 8.5 49.3 66.2 7.6
North America Other savoury snacks 4,856.5 5,993.7 5.4 6,274.2 7,247.5 3.7
Cereal bars 3,543.4 3,381.8 −1.2 3,347.5 3,514.0 1.2
Energy bars 2,024.4 2,715.3 7.6 2,927.8 3,643.6 5.6
Western Europe Other savoury snacks 593.5 695.6 4.0 724.1 836.0 3.7
Cereal bars 1,313.2 1,379.1 1.2 1,414.0 1,567.5 2.6
Energy bars 166.4 241.3 9.7 266.3 367.5 8.4

Source: Euromonitor International, 2018

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

Europe

In the European region, 89% of the launches occurred in recent years (from 2013 to May 2018). The United Kingdom (U.K.) is the country that has seen the highest number of launches in total over the review period (2004-2018), followed by France.

Insect-containing product launches in Europe by country, from January 2004 to May 2018
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Country Products launched
United Kingdom 12
France 6
Denmark 3
Finland 3
Belgium 3
Germany 2
Switzerland 2
Spain 2
Russia 1
Poland 1

Source: Mintel, 2018.

The reason why sales of these products have not yet taken off may be due to aesthetics, according to a food analyst (cited in Food & Drink Technology, 2014). While shellfish are seen as a gourmet product, insects still evoke squeamishness. Arthropods like lobsters and shrimps, once considered poor-man's food, are now expensive delicacies. For insects, a similar shift of perception is needed.

According to a survey conducted in the U.K. among 1,640 consumers (Food & Drink Technology, 2014), 17% had knowingly eaten insects as food. Asked in what forms insects might be considered, responses saw crushed into a protein rich flour for baking score the most with 39%. Other high scorers were roasted for a caramelized nutty flavored snack (32%) and low fat/high protein burgers (29%). Using insects in crushed or powdered form may, thus, pave the way for consumers to get over the disgust factor.

In the U.K., five out of twelve products launched during the review period were snack bars.

Cereal and energy bars in the United Kingdom
Historical and forecast retail value sales (US$ millions and period growth)
Category 2013 2017 CAGR* % 2013-2017 2018 2022 CAGR* % 2018-2022
Cereal bars 441.9 426.4 −0.9 434.5 457.3 2.6
Energy bars 30.1 82.4 28.6 98.9 146.8 21.8

Source: Euromonitor International, 2018

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

Other types of innovative products launched in Europe are chickpea fusilli and crickets with 24 % protein content (launched in Finland by Tervens in December 2017) and a spicy insect burger launched in Switzerland by Essento Food in March 2018 made with 31% mealworm. Even IKEA is planning on adding a bug burger to its food menu.

For the more daring consumers, whole insects are also proposed by companies such as Micronutris. The French company launched in 2017 a product containing 50 plain dehydrated crickets that can be eaten as is or cooked with other ingredients (classic version), and another one containing 250 dehydrated mealworms that can be served as an apetizers (tapas version). The insects are raised in France, fed with ingredients from organic farming, and are free from gluten, genetically-modified organisms (GMO), colourant and preservative.

Chickpea fusilli and crickets with 24 % protein content (launched in Finland by Tervens in December 2017)
Product containing 250 dehydrated mealworms that can be served as an apetizer launches in 2017 by the French company Micronutris
Spicy insect burger launched in Switzerland by Essento Food in March 2018 made with 31% mealworm

Source: Mintel, 2018

In Europe, a new piece of legislation came into force on January 1, 2018 which applies to novel foods, defined as anything without a significant history of consumption in the European Union before May 15 1997. It details the standards and authorization procedures for the commercialization of novel products, such as whole insects and their derived products, on the European market. The approval system will be centralized, with applications submitted to the European Commission rather than individual member states. According to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), an influx of applications concerning the use of insects in food could be seen this year as the new rules are taking effect.

Asia-Pacific

While in Europe entomophagy is seen as the future of food, in many regions of Asia-Pacific it is also part of the tradition. In the region, Thailand has seen the highest number of product launches.

Insect-containing product launches in Asia-Pacific by country, from January 2004 to May 2018
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Country Products launched
Thailand 15
New Zealand 5
China 3
South Korea 2
Taiwan 2
India 1
Vietnam 1

Source: Mintel, 2018.

All fifteen products in Thailand were launched in the "meat snacks" category between 2015 and 2018. About half of the products (7) were positioned as having a crunchy texture (crispy/crusty/brittle/nutty) which was the only claim related to texture that was found on Mintel among all insect-containing products launched worldwide. However, according to the Entomo Farms blog, while grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets are crispy and crunchy, silkworms and bamboo worms taste rather milky and creamy.

Retail sales in the "other savoury snacks" subcategory, which have almost doubled between 2013 and 2017, can provide a good indication of the growth of meat snacks, including those containing insects. However, since insects (and arachnids) are embedded in the food tradition in Thailand, they are often sold unpackaged in local markets stalls.

Other savoury snacks in Thailand
Historical and forecast retail value sales (US$ millions and period growth)
Category 2013 2017 CAGR* % 2013-2017 2018 2022 CAGR* % 2018-2022
Other savoury snacks 218.4 413.6 17.3 474.7 803.6 14.1
Total savoury snacks 841.2 1,204.5 9.4 1,317.1 1,884.6 9.4

Source: Euromonitor International, 2018

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

North America and Latin America

In the Americas, Mexico and the United States have seen the most launches. In the United States, the leading subcategories were meat snacks (5 products), energy bars (4) and cakes, pastries and sweet goods (3). In Mexico, the top categories were sauces and seasonings (10 products), meat snacks (5) and tequila (3).

Insect-containing product launches in the Americas by country, from January 2004 to May 2018
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Country Products launched
Mexico 20
United States 17
Brazil 1
Canada 1

Source: Mintel, 2018.

In North America, more than 30 start-ups specializing in crickets have been created since 2012 (Popular Science, 2015). A few raise the insects; the rest either sell cricket meal–milled to a fine powder that resembles nut flour–or products made from it.

Cricket flour sold by Loblaws in Canada under the brand President Choice Source: Global Analysis 2018

In Canada, Ontario is home to Entomo Farms, the biggest insect farm in North America and one of the few in the world to be certified organic. Entomo Farms has introduced a significant innovation in the industry, known as "cricket condos". Crickets are naturally a swarming species, and like being in a dark, warm place. The condos allow the free range crickets to live as close as possible to how they would live in the natural world. During their short lives (approximately six weeks), they are fed with locally-sourced organic food. Towards the end of their life cycle, they are harvested, roasted and sold in powder form (Entomo Farms website, 2018).

Insect-containing products are gaining momentum in both the United States and Canada as more and more products find their way onto the shelves of grocery stores. According to the CEO of Crickstart (personal communication), the fact that Loblaws has introduced its own President Choice cricket flour is proof that there is potential for entering the mainstream in a long-term horizon.

On the other hand, Mexico has the world's highest number of edible insects according to the FAO (2013). Edible insects and other invertebrates are an integral part of the Mexican cuisine and are often consumed in the same way as they were by the Aztecs and other pre-European civilizations. They are generally either roasted or fried and eaten as an appetizer, or used in a crunchy taco. The insects with a stronger flavor are ground into a powder and mixed with herbs and spices to be used in different dishes or to prepare saucesFootnote 4.

Sauces, dressings and condiments in Mexico
Historical and forecast retail value sales (US$ millions and period growth)
Subcategory 2013 2017 CAGR* % 2013-2017 2018 2022 CAGR* % 2018-2022
Table sauces 894.1 1,126.1 5.9 1,198.4 1,519.2 6.1
Herbs and spices 28.6 34.8 5.0 37.2 48.9 7.1
Cooking sauces 83.5 102.6 5.3 108.7 138.1 6.2
Total sauces, dressings and condiments 2,250.8 2,856.3 6.1 3,041.0 3,868.9 6.2

Source: Euromonitor International, 2018

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

There is a trend that is bringing traditional Mexican elements back to the table. For many years, insect eating was seen as shameful by the Mexican elite. Today, haute cuisine restaurants are reintroducing insect dishes, now perceived as luxurious, on their menusFootnote 4.

Product launch by company

Globally, Smile Bull Marketing launched the highest number of products containing insects with a total of twelve products in the review period (2004-2018). Out of these, eight were new product introductions or brand variety/range extensions, while four products were relaunches. All of the company's product launches occurred in Thailand and all were in the meat snacks subcategory, with products such as barbecue flavored fried chrysalis or crispy sesame coated silkworms. The two most popular flavors were barbecue and cheese, with three products with each flavor.

INALIM ranked second in terms of number of products containing insects, with a total of seven products launched during the review period. All products were launched in Mexico. Five were new products introduced in the market while two products were relaunched with a new packaging. The products were classified in the meat snacks, seasonings, and other sauces and seasonings subcategories, with products such as seasoned salt with spices and grasshoppers or hot sauce with worm.

Ninety-six products were branded while seven products had a private label.

Top companies to launch insect-containing products, from January 2004 to May 2018
Company Number of products launched
Smile Bull Marketing 12
INALIM 7
Micronutris 4
Brand New Products 4
Croprotein 4
Herencia Gastronómica 3
Zheng Qian Bio-Tech 3
Hotlix 3
Edible 3
Janey Lou's 3
Crawlers 3
Belmex Chocolates 2
Marinter 2
Casa Armando Guillermo Prieto 2
Yusung Mulsan 2
Exo 2
Grupo Gran Mitlan 2
The Green Kow 2
Dare to Eat 2
Essento Food 2
Chapul 2
Money Food 2
Eat Grub 2
Jimini's 2
Source: Mintel, 2018

Key features of insect-containing products

The top claims for these products relate to their environmentally-friendly character and their high content in protein. Twenty-five of these products display on-pack logos or marketing related to social media such as website addresses or contact information on Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, YouTube, etc.

Twenty-four products were also claimed to be free from allergens (such as gluten) or to have a reduced amount of allergens. On the other hand, it is now known that insects can contain allergenic proteins that are common to all arthropods, which can cause significant allergic reactions in some individuals, especially those who are allergic to crustaceans. There is a need to raise awareness regarding this issue.

Most products launched during the review period were plain/unflavored, followed by products featuring barbecue and chili flavors. Although most insect-containing products were launched in supermarkets, these products are increasingly available through mass merchandisers or through mail /Internet order. There were very little chilled or frozen products launched, the vast majority being shelf stable. Finally, the nutritional content most frequently displayed on-pack are protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Top claims associated with insect-containing products launched between January 2004 and May 2018
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Top claims Products launched
Ethical - Environmentally friendly product 31
High/added protein 29
Social media 25
Low/no/reduced allergen 24
No additives/preservatives 18
Gluten free 18
All natural product 10
Dairy free 11
Organic 10
GMO (genetically-modified organisms) free 9

Source: Mintel, 2018.

Key features of insect-containing products launched between January 2004 to May 2018
Feature type Feature Number of product launches
Top flavors Unflavoured/plain 15
Barbecue/BBQ/barbacoa 8
Chili/chilli pepper 5
Cheese 3
Chocolate 3
Cocoa/cacao 3
Lime 3
Coconut 2
Garlic 2
Tequila 2
Top packaging Flexible 56
Jar 13
Bottle 12
Storage type Shelf stable 95
Chilled 6
Frozen 2
Top stores Supermarket 40
Internet/mail order 11
Mass merchandise/hypermarket 11
Natural/health food store 5
Specialist retailer (such as liquor stores) 4
Gourmet stores 3
Nutrition (as listed on pack) Protein 73
Fat 72
Carbohydrates 71
Energy (kcal) 68
Sugars 55
Saturated fat 46
Fibre 44
Sodium 44
Energy (kJ) 34
Cholesterol 30
Source: Mintel, 2018

Areas for future research

The evolution of other product offerings, such as fresh eggs from chicken fed with crickets, could be interesting to track in the future. Another example is insect oil, which could become the next source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Mintel (2018) suggests that insects have a strong potential as functional ingredients, such as emulsifiers or gelling agents. For example, it was found that a smaller quantity of mealworm larvae protein is required to generate an emulsion in comparison to whey protein. Depending on the species and the growth stage of the insect, there is a potential to create different product textures. Examples of insect-derived additives currently in use include carmine E120 (red food color) and shellac E904 (glazing agent). (Mintel, 2018)

Moreover, using insects as "behind-the-scenes" functional ingredients may help in addressing the disgust factor. In China, for example, Real Nutraceutical Shun recently launched a series of nutritional drinks containing silkworm protein, without this being overtly promoted on-pack to the consumer.

Chefs are also experimenting with the flavours of insects. From the creation of new recipes and menus in restaurants to the design of new food products, the food industry has a large role to play in raising the status of insects as food. Insects can be found on menus in the West, but are currently mainly targeted at adventurous eaters rather than mainstream consumers. (FAO, 2013) StrategiesFootnote 1 that break down common myths surrounding the practice of eating insects are needed, since insects are still viewed as pests by a vast majority of people.

Research is also needed to understand better insect-related allergies. For example, people who react to shrimps are highly likely to react to mealworms, and symptoms can be severe.

Finally, it is too early to tell if consumers will be concerned by the welfare of insects. Little is known about the extent to which insects experience pain and discomfort. As a precaution, insect-killing methods that reduce suffering are recommended by the FAO (FAO, 2013).

Examples of new products

Raspberry, Cacao & Cricket Flour Bar
Company Croprotein
Brand Gathr Crobar
Country United Kingdom
Date published September 2016
Launch type New packaging
Price in US dollars 2.66

Gathr Crobar Raspberry, Cacao & Cricket Flour Bar is now available in a redesigned 30 gram (g) pack. This product is free from gluten, soy and dairy. Described as an ethical source of protein, this product contains no added sugar or sweeteners. According to the manufacturer, crickets are the tasty, nutritious and sustainable protein source of the future. Roasted into versatile flour, crickets take less resources to farm, produce less harmful by-products and are higher in protein and micro-nutrients than beef. This product was on display at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2016 in Olympia, London.

Ingredients (on pack): cashews, sunflower seeds, sultanas, dates, cranberries, goji berries, cricket flour (6%), cacao nibs (6%), cacao powder (4%), cacao butter (4%), raspberries (3%), natural flavouring

Rock Sugar and Snow Pear Flavoured Amino Acid Nutrient Drink
Company Zheng Qian Bio-Tech
Brand Real Nutriceutical Shun Pai
Country China
Date published August 2014
Price in US dollars 0.59

Real Nutriceutical Shun Pai Bing Tang Xue Li Wei An Ji Suan Ying Yang Su Yin Liao (Rock Sugar and Snow Pear Flavoured Amino Acid Nutrient Drink) is said to replenish energy. This product retails in a 550 millilitre (ml) pack featuring a promotion to win free bottles of drinks.

Ingredients (on pack): Water, white granulated sugar, rock sugar, concentrated snow pear juice, silkworm powder, citric acid, carboxymethyl cellulose, sodium citrate, sodium erythorbate, sodium cyclamate, acesulfame potassium, L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine methyl ester (aspartame), taurine, food essence and flavourings (snow pear essence, yellow pear essence, apple essence, L-arginine)

Seasoned Salt with Spices
Company Marinter
Brand Antojos Del Patrón
Country Mexico
Date published April 2011
Launch type New product
Price in US dollars 2.40

Antojos Del Patrón Sal de Mar al Chapulin (Seasoned Salt with Spices) is a 100% artisan seasoned sea salt. It is said to be ideal for seasoning drinks or enhance the flavour of food. The product is free from preservatives and retails in a 120g pack. By buying this product, customers will be contributing to the Mexican ecosystem.

Ingredients (on pack): sea salt, dehydrated lemon juice, chili mix, grasshopper (8%)

Cheese Flavoured Fried Chrysalis
Company Smile Bull Marketing
Brand Smile Bull Hiso
Country Thailand
Date published April 2015
Launch type New product
Price in US dollars 0.89

Smile Bull Hiso Cheese Flavoured Fried Chrysalis are said to be delicious and high in protein. It is claimed to be a hi-class product that is made using green technology. This GMP (good manufacturing practice) certified product retails in a 15g pack, bearing a Facebook link and the Food for the Future logo.

Ingredients (on pack): Chrysalis (95%), seasoning (3%), salt (1%), vegetable oil (1%)

Cricket Granola
Company EntoCube
Brand Samu by Entocube
Country Finland
Date published December 2017
Launch type New product
Price in US dollars 8.10

Samu by Entocube Sirkkagranola (Cricket Granola) comprises oven roasted crickets, Nordic lingonberry, nuts, apples and seeds. The roasted crickets said to have a delicate, nutty flavour, and are naturally rich in protein, fibre, iron and vitamins B12 to boost one's day. The manufacturer states that eating crickets is environmentally friendly and sustainable, and that the production only requires small amounts of feed, water and space. The salty and sweet product retails in a 200g pack containing approximately 80 house crickets.

Ingredients (on pack): Oat flakes, oat grain, rapeseed oil, oat fiber, syrup, liquid sugar, house crickets (Acheta domesticus), sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, flax seeds, apple, pumpkin seeds, lingonberry powder, salt

Energy Bites with Chilli, Chocolate & Cricket Flour
Company Dare to Eat
Brand Dare to Eat Dare Squares
Country Denmark
Date published August 2017
Launch type New product
Price in US dollars 5.43

The organic product is free from gluten and dairy, and retails in a 45g pack.

Ingredients (on pack): Dates (50%)*, almonds (22%)*, cricket flour (10%), dark chocolate (10%)* (cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin)), raw cocoa (8%)*, salt (0.3%)

Peanut Butter & Honey Pure Power Superfood Protein Dog Treats
Company Petya
Brand Petya
Country United States
Date published June 2015
Launch type New product
Price in US dollars 6.00

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic, natural oven baked product is described as a simply sustainable, healthy snack that is good for dogs and for the earth. It is free from GMO, wheat, grain, chemicals, pesticides and antibiotics. The product has been made with real cricket flour from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registered cricket farm, features 100% natural protein, and is said to be twenty times more efficient as a protein source than beef, provide as much vitamin B12 as salmon, 15% more iron than spinach, and more calcium than milk. It is suitable for dogs in all life stages, and retails in a recyclable 5 ounce (oz.) pack.

Ingredients (on pack): Organic buckwheat powder, organic peanut flour, organic sweet potato, organic peanut butter, organic honey, organic ground flaxseed, cricket flour, rosemary extract

Conclusion

While insects have been consumed for generations in certain parts of the world, they have just started their journey on Western plates as consumers are increasingly looking for products that offer alternative sources of protein. When used in food and drink innovation, insects are typically marketed as a protein source, an alternative to poultry or meat, such as in insect burgers or energy bars.

Due to cultural resistance, Western consumers may initially start buying insect-containing products because they are sustainable and healthy rather than because of their pleasant taste or the eating experience they deliver. The feeling of disgust can be very difficult to overcome; however, old tastes are currently being challenged by the food industry through consumer education efforts.

Clearly, more research is needed to take full advantage of the growing entomophagy trend, such as understanding better how insects can be used at different stages of maturity to obtain various tastes and textures, and under the form of additives in food such as gelling agents and emulsifiers.

For more information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

For additional intelligence on this and other markets, the complete library of Global Analysis reports can be found on the International agri-food market intelligence page, arranged by region.

Resources

Ingredient Focus – Insects in packaged food, drinks and pet food
Global Analysis Report

Prepared by: Josique Lorenzo, Market Analyst

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