More than 2 billion people around the world eat insects. Entomophagy is not a new practice but commercially available processed and packaged edible insects is. This market is nascent and over the last 3-4 years, western countries have begun to lap up this trend as part of food discovery, sustainability, and food trail culture. The rise in the importance towards nutrient rich foods is an important trend that mimics into a driver for this market. The major nutritional value that edible insects carry is its ability to delivery higher levels of protein per weight in a sustainable way. When compared to popular meat options, insect harvesting for commercial purposes promises sizeable environmental and resource utilization advantages.
The Icky factor continues to be the biggest challenge to mass market adoption of edible insects. Popular opinion for insect eating is still not favorable. In many parts of the west and some parts in the east, entomophagy is viewed with a certain level of perceived disgust and is often identified with primitiveness. Pre-existing psychological aversion towards insects combined with religious and cultural beliefs is a key challenge for mass market adoption.
Regulations also continue to be a critical factor in the mass market adoption of edible insects. Food administrations across the world are evaluating guidelines and rulebooks for the use of commercially available edible insects. In fact, for the use of bugs in the feed sector, lobbying is underway through private sector forces and US-based companies to obtain FDA approval. The same trend is prevalent in Europe as well. With an improving regulatory environment for edible insects, marketplace acceptance is beginning to happen as more stores and shops have begun to stock edible bugs in the food sections.
The market for edible insects across many parts of the world is still substantial and is forecast to grow significantly the next 5 years. The edible insect market is a nestled in niche opportunity that has begun to provide incremental ROIs to value investors and market stakeholders.