CANADA – America based insect company Aspire Food Group is set to build a new cricket protein facility in Canada as part of its efforts to promote the adoption of entomophagy (consumption of edible insects) as an alternative to animal proteins.
The new facility will be constructed at a cost of US$13.2 million and is expected to produce nearly 20,000 metric tonnes of products annually.
The insect agriculture firm Aspire claims that the new plant in London, Ontario, will be the world’s first fully automated cricket protein manufacturing facility.
Operations at the facility are expected to begin in the first quarter of next year and the company hopes to employ about 60 employees once the facility is fully operational.
The project is funded by Next Generation Manufacturing (NGen), an institution which aims to build up ‘next-generation’ manufacturing capabilities in Canada.
Aspire manufactures nutrient-dense protein powder from crickets for food supplements and pet nutrition, as well as a plant and soil biopesticide and biostimulant.
According to Aspire, 100g of powdered cricket contains almost the same amount of protein as an equivalent amount of meat, but with less fat and fewer calories.
In developing technologies for the new facility, Aspire says that it has applied for and received 11 patents, and expects the project to generate additional intellectual property.
The collaborations with Aspire’s partners will see the project integrate technologies such as artificial intelligence and a private industrial internet of things.
The support from the NGen Supercluster, on the other hand, will accelerate the commercialisation of these technologies and produce a template for the development of similar facilities in the future.
The establishment of the Canadian insect facility is happening at a time when insect food and feed markets are forecast to grow this year as consumer preferences continue to shift away from animal-based proteins.
According to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) shift from animal proteins is stimulated by consumer awareness of the significant carbon footprint of livestock production which directly contributes to global warming.
Canada’s warming up towards insect proteins also follows a recent EU approval for yellow mealworm for human consumption.
The European ruling, according to food industry analysts, will likely pave the way for an EU-wide authorization of the products covered by the advisory and is also expected to act as an enabler for the other applications presently evaluated by the EU risk assessor.
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