Ÿnsect Poised to Ramp Up Production of Lesser Mealworm for Human Consumption
Human insect consumption – as a nutrient-rich and efficient means to support sustainability and meet climate change targets – has received another boost today as the lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus) becomes the fourth insect to receive a positive assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for human consumption.
The EFSA assessment will have to be confirmed by the European Commission, which will give the final authorisation for market approval in the EU following endorsement by the EU Member States authorities, before the product can go more widely on sale across the continent.
This decision comes as great news for the global leader in insect farming, Ÿnsect, whose Netherlands operation (formerly Protifarm) submitted the application to EFSA with a view to expanding its activities in Europe in line with the EU’s sustainability goals. Ÿnsect has the infrastructure in place to expand production and distribution immediately once the European Commission’s green light comes.
The race for alternative and sustainable proteins is on as the World Resources Institute predicts a 60% gap between supply and demand for protein by 2050.
While insect approval for human consumption is a relatively new concept, it is one that is already taking off in developing markets. Ÿnsect’s other hero protein, Molitor mealworms, were the first insect authorised by EFSA in January 2021.
In a survey commissioned by Ÿnsect and conducted OnePoll in April 2022 across the UK, the US, Netherlands and France, nearly three-fifths of all respondents (57%) revealed a willingness to consume insects once the environmental and health benefits had been explained. Moreover, 96% of the 8,326 adults surveyed who had already eaten insects or insect protein said they liked them or would try them again.
“The recent assessment by EFSA that lesser mealworms are safe for human consumption is a significant step forward for the company’s expansion”, commented Antoine Hubert, CEO, and co-founder of Ÿnsect. He added: “Mealworm protein offers the best of both worlds, as nutritionally beneficial as animal protein, but with a much lower environmental impact. The scientific community is increasingly rallying around the idea, with a 2022 report by the University of Helsinki suggesting that a diet incorporating large amounts of insect protein offers the optimum solution to reduce environmental impact by over 80% while offering high nutritional benefits to consumers.”
When asked if they thought (human) food manufacturers should make insect proteins more widely incorporated into their products, over three-quarters of global survey respondents (79%) said yes, as long as it is clearly indicated on the packaging.
Ÿnsect Human Nutrition & Health already sells ingredients using the lesser mealworm (branded AdalbaPro) that can be found in a variety of products across Europe, including Zirp in more than 800 Bila stores in Austria, cereal bars and Issac shakes, and gourmet burgers made from beetles found in several Danish restaurants. The company is now on track to accelerate production to meet the increasing demand across EU markets.