With food sustainability a hot topic at the moment, a new kind of food source is creeping onto supermarket shelves.
The humble insect is growing in popularity as a sustainable source of protein, with insect-based snacks and staples such as pasta and granola hitting pantries in Europe, and it won’t be long before we start seeing them on Australian supermarket shelves.
While neither Coles, Woolworths or Aldi confirmed such products to Inside FMCG, food scientist and entomologist Skye Blackburn, who owns the Edible Bug Shop, hinted that Australian supermarkets are very close to getting on board with these products and we could be seeing signs of that as early as March this year.
“We currently sell online in health food stores, and within the next year you’ll be seeing edible insects on Australian supermarket shelves,” Blackburn told Inside FMCG.
Blackburn started up her business in 2007 after visiting Thailand and trying edible insects for the first time. On coming back to Australia and realising there wasn’t anyone doing this, Blackburn put her science background to use and started researching the nutritional benefits.
“When I got the results back I was really shocked that we weren’t using insects as a source of food because of how nutrient dense they are, so it was my mission to educate people about the amazing health, nutrition and sustainability benefits from eating insects,” Blackburn said.
“In the past five years we’ve seen a really big increase in the number of people that are wanting to include insects in their everyday diet. Most people think that you have to eat a whole bug, we actually manufacture products that have invisible edible insects in there.
“We make a bread but instead of normal white bread, it’s enriched with insect protein, so you don’t even know it’s there. We’ve got a line of corn chips that have edible insects in them as well. So I think it makes it a little bit easier for people to introduce them to edible insects in foods that they eat everyday rather than trying to get them to eat something that’s a little bit out of the box.”
Although Blackburn didn’t specify what supermarkets we can expect to stock products like these, we are likely to find out more in the next couple of months.
Kaufland and Selfridges get onboard with grubs
This week, German supermarket Kaufland introduced a range of Jimini’s insect snacks to its stores including protein bars made from buffalo and mealworms as well as crickets and insects, and worm noodles, cereal and bars to hit shelves soon in a range of flavours.
The french company Jimini’s has also designed an exclusive line for Selfridges in the UK which will hit food halls by the end of the week.
Products include basil-flavoured fusilli pasta, pumpkin seed granola and dark chocolate protein bars which are all created using either ground buffalo worms or cricket-based flour. While Jimini’s already produces similar snacks for the Spanish and German supermarket sector, this is its first UK venture.
With about 1,900 different edible insects in the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are seeing the potential of this food source. Worms and insects require less space, water and food compared to other animal sources of protein such as chickens, pigs and cows, and better still they grow and multiply faster.
They are also rich in fiber, unsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients such as copper, iron and magnesium, and are low in calories.
While the consumption of insects is still a sticky subject for many Westerners, it’s part of everyday life in many parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, often consumed whole or ground as powder or paste.