KOREA— South Korea’s leading snack and ice cream maker Lotte Confectionery has formed an alliance with Canada-based crickets farmer Aspire Food Group to develop insect-based protein alternatives in a bid to speed up its push into the emerging insect protein market.
Through the partnership, Lotte Confectionery is expected to become the exclusive distributor of Aspire Food Group’s cricket powders, protein bars and cookies in Korea.
The two parties have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see Lotte Confectionery distribute and sell Aspire Foods in Asia and Europe.
The two companies will also partner to expand their presence in other markets, including Asia, and execute joint insect research projects.
Prior to the mentioned MOU, Lotte Confectionery had already invested US$731 million in Aspire set to be utilized in the product development and the building of its insect protein production facility which will feature the latest technology, robotics, and automated equipment.
Founded in 2013, Aspire Food specializes in the production of dried crickets that are commonly used to make food items such as baking flour, granola, and pet food.
Aspire Food co-founder and CEO Mohammed Ashour said: “A growing population and increasing demand for food and materials requires sustainable, scalable solutions.” Edible insect species generate less environmental pollution than breeding cows and pigs.
With the capacity to churn out 12 million kilograms of crickets annually in its plant in Canada, the food tech company claims crickets, or cricket powders, are a “superior” protein source to meat or cell-cultured and plant-based alternatives.
Insects are considered a staple for human consumption in some parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America. According to the global market observer, Grand View Research, the international market for insect-based protein has grown over the years and in 2020, already amounted to US$250 million.
This figure expected to increase on an annual average of 27.4% from 2021 to 2028. This provides a very conducive environment for Lotte Confectionery and Aspire Food’s business to flourish.
As part of efforts to accelerate its breakthroughs in the edible insect market, Lotte has signed partnership agreements for related research with local governments, including North Gyeongsang Province, and in November last year, partnered with Ynsect to secure protein alternatives technologies.