It’s already a staple in many countries and consumed by humans all over the world. It's been heartily recommended by the British Veterinary Association for your pets and said to be ‘better than steak’. And the market has been projected to increase 50 times by 2030 and it shows no sign of stopping.
The fascinating market of insect food has incredible potential to replace and supplement our daily eating habits for both us and our furry, scaly, and feathered friends.
As a regular person bombarded by new headlines every day praising insect food as the future, you may be wondering where all the fuss came from.
Why is insect food so trendy? This article should further enlighten you on why insects could indeed be the future of food.
Insects are incredibly sustainable
The Earth's food supply is finite and alternative food supplies such as insects are perhaps one of our best new sources of nourishment. By 2050, it is estimated by the UN that the world population will increase to almost 10 billion. Satisfying the food and feed demands of a population that large would need an increase in global food production of 70%.
The human population is ever-growing. A massive burden will be exerted on our planet as birth rates increase and increase. Insect feed for pets and humans is perhaps the best way to relieve this.
The advantages of farming insects are that it requires less food and water, emits fewer greenhouse gasses, and is very very efficient - especially compared to farming creatures like cows and pigs!
The history of insect food for humans
Insect food is foodstuff obtaining or consisting of insects that are safe and digestible to eat for everyone. There are over 2000 species of insects around the world that are absolutely safe for human consumption.
You may have butterflies in your stomach at the thought of bugs in your belly but fear not! Eating insects is by no means a new phenomenon. It is known as entomophagy and has been practised for thousands of years. The earliest known mention of entomophagy is found in the Bible where John the Baptist feasted on a diet of wild honey and locusts. Even Aristotle was fond of munching on cicadas!
In the present day, 2 billion people around the world consume insects, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In Vietnam, bee larvae are eaten live straight from the honeycomb. Grasshoppers are considered a favourite in places like Mexico where they are known as ‘chapulines’ and considered a delicacy. Essentially, the Western world is one of the few places that do not consume insects as part of their diets!
Insects have been worming their way into Western diets for some time now. With new and amended food rules and regulations, their popularity is only set to increase across Europe and North America.
In short, insects in Western kitchens can no longer be thought of as science fiction.
Insect food for pets
Did you know a quarter of the impact of meat production comes from pet food!
As with the growing human population, the pet population in many countries is projected to increase massively. Their nutritional needs cannot be understated!
The magnitude of the current climate crisis and how their pets contribute to it should be understood by the average pet owner. Rising sea levels and reduced air quality around the world have been fuelled by humanity’s own actions and it is important we take responsibility and understand how we all can help save our planet.
Pet food globally can be considered an environmental disaster. An area twice the size of the UK is used to feed the world’s pets and only more will be required in the future. Pet food is responsible for a quarter of the impact of meat production in terms of the use of land, water, phosphates, fossil fuels and pesticides!
Mealworms, locusts, and crickets emit roughly 100x less greenhouse gasses compared to pigs and cows. They take less land, less water, fewer resources and are nutritionally excellent to boot.
We desperately need alternative food sources that are both delicious and sustainable to feed our pets and insects fit this description perfectly. Emphasis on the delicious.
Insects are a great and tasty option for your pets
Insect food can provide equal or better nutritional profiles for pets including proteins, vitamins, and fibres all while being much less environmentally costly.
Insects have long been part of our pets’ diets, where you may have witnessed your furry friend wolf down a cockroach or beetle here and there. The fact is: their high protein content and pleasing nutty flavour make insects quite a treat for your pets.
You may have heard horror stories of the shocking quality of some commercial pet foods. Strange preservatives and long-named chemicals may befuddle you when you see them on the list of ingredients on your favourite brand. But with insect food, you get a full, mostly unprocessed, uncompromised and quality product.
And if you don’t believe us, you can believe the thousands of pet owners who are turning to insect-based pet food. They know the best thing for their pets and the planet is to turn towards crunchy critters to feed their loved animals.
In fact, 30% of the 500,000 tons of insect food projected to be produced in 2030 is estimated to be produced for use in pet food. 70% of American pet owners in one study were willing to try ‘insect food in some form’ for their pets. The numbers don’t lie and they spell a paradigm shift for the future of pet munch.
In conclusion, there is a large and growing market for insect food. It is already eaten around the world yet it is a vastly untapped food source in the Western world. It has yet to be fully welcomed in European and North American kitchens although this is changing every day.
The increasing focus on sustainability and the pressing need for alternative food sources mean insects will make their rise in all of our diets. There is a massive and promising future within the market of pet food and it’s a key area where it could make a huge impact.
So how about it? Consider the benefits of insects and reap the rewards. No doubt it will go down a swarm!