Edible insects and the future of food

Edible insects and the future of food

Some experts think that edible insects could be a good option for sustainable protein production and consumption, and one of the keys to global food security in a world of nine billion people or more. Here the authors have used the methods of Foresight to explore the potential of insect-eating within four different future scenarios. Interestingly, edible insects featured as a plausible part of all four imagined futures. This suggests that eating insects might become mainstream in a few decades. However, questions remain about the economic viability and food safety of insect-based foods. Research into these questions is necessary and justified.
 
Policy recommendations:
 
A future of widespread entomophagy is plausible but many challenges would need to be addressed before the industry could emerge on a substantial, even global, scale:
  • research is needed into production and processing technologies and food safety issues. The economic viability of a future edible insect sector is substantially uncertain at present. It will depend on the size of the eventual market for edible insects as well as the scale economies of insect production and processing
  • the reality of human insect-eating could increase the availability and affordability of healthy protein in the developing world. Countries in tropical regions where insect-eating is already established may be in the best position to expand this market and companies in these regions may have a competitive advantage in serving it
  • As developing countries become wealthier, insect-based foods may offer a more sustainable way to meet future protein requirements than conventional meat. However, the assumption that it will be easier to persuade consumers to eat insects than convince them to eat less meat should be tested, and it is possible that other meat alternatives (such as lab-cultured meat or vegetable and algalproteins) may be as sustainable and marketable, or more so, than insect-based foods
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