EUROPE  – The European Union has approved the commercialization of of dried yellow mealworm and derived products across in its market following a novel food application submitted by the French insect producer Agronutris.

With the approval, Agronutris now becomes the first European insect producer officially authorized to sell insects as human food in the EU.

Additionally, this authorization will also benefit companies which intend to incorporate the ingredients produced or commercialized by Agronutris into insect-based products.

This approval by the EU  follows a recent publication by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of a scientific opinion which concluded that such a product is safe, in accordance with the conditions of use and specifications proposed by Agronutris.

The decision has been  welcomed by insect-based food ingredients stakeholders banded under the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF).

“The green light given by EU member states represents a major milestone for our company, but also for the insect producing sector as a whole,” remarks Cedric Auriol, Agronutris co-founder and IPIFF member.

“Being among the first insect producers that have heavily invested in the development of novel food applications, Agronutris contributed to the development of scientific evidence demonstrating the safety of insect food products,” comments Auriol.

Following the approval, applicants will have the possibility to commercialize products containing dried Tenebrio molitor larvae across the EU for a five-year period

These applicants have the possibility to use the “protected” scientific data included in the novel food application developed by Agronutris, if agreed by the latter company.

European insect producers who have lawfully commercialized their products at national level before 2018 may also benefit from a so-called “transitional measure.”

EU’s approval is timely, as the bug-based sector, which has the potential of building more sustainable chicken and aquaculture value chains, has  enjoyed a steady influx of investment recently.

Earlier in April, ValuSect, a European insect production project, attributed €410,000 (US$419,800) worth in services to 17 small and medium-sized enterprises located in North-West Europe to help them develop their insect-based food business.

The sector has also been enjoying stead growth with global edible insects market size which was valued at USD 0.41 billion in 2018 anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 19.7% over the forecast period of 2020 to 2025, according to Grand Review Research.

Increasing health consciousness among the youth, awareness about nutritional benefits, and willingness to explore new options are expected to drive the market in the forecast period.

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