EUROPE – There is a gradual rise in demand for insect foods in Europe as more people get to know the value of insect particularly as a sustainable source of proteins.

Too address this demand, the European ValuSect (“Valuable Insects”) consortium has kickstarted a program to help firms accelerate the development of insect-based foods in Europe.

Under the program, 40 small and media-sized enterprises (SMEs) located in North-West Europe will be selected over a period of 3 years and be supported with funding.

The businesses according to ValuSect will be eligible to vouchers worth €10,000 (US$11,800), €20,000 (US$23,600) or €40,000 (US$47,300) in services provided by the project partners on December 1.

The funding for European SME businesses in the bug industry comes at a time when European consumers are becoming aware of the impact of their food consumption on the planet.

Dutch producer Protix has highlighted that the insect protein industry is lucratively gaining traction, reportedly generating US$300 million worth of investments last year.

In the same month, French agri-tech innovator Ÿnsect earned €20 million (US$23.4 million) worth of backing for a fully-automated, bio-based plant, which will house the industrial-scale farming of meal worms for premium animal feed and fertilizers.

Insects is thus becoming a preferred food options as it has a lot of interesting nutritional aspects, with a low environmental impact.

This according to ValuScect makes insects to be arguably one of the solutions to feed Europe in the future.

“Consumers’ appetite for insects in Europe is slowly positively evolving, as there is more and more awareness on the need to find sustainable sources of proteins,” Hélène Herman, communication officer at ValuSect said.

The issuing of vouchers was first announced last May, when ValuSect detailed proposals to improve the sustainable production and processing techniques of insect-based products while transferring developed knowledge to agri-food businesses across the continent.

The program is targeting F&B or agri-food SMEs located in North-West Europe, which spans Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, parts of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Accoding to Herman, the most popular insects developed in Europe would be crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms and black soldier flies.

“Our project covers the first three three species. They all have a novel food dossier introduced by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and thus a potential future of commercialization in Europe.”

Under the program, ValuSect will be providing services covering technology, food innovation, consumer acceptance and strategic business services, for the development of insect-based food products.

Successful applicants will be informed of their selection for the second stage by the end of January 2021. 

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