With worries over food security and rising prices and mouths to feed, the news couldn’t come at a better time—the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) just gave its positive assessment to use the Lesser mealworm for human consumption.
This means a huge push for snacks hitting supermarket shelves containing the lesser mealworm (alphitobius diaperinus), just as it has for other insects before now. In 2021, the EFSA gave its thumbs up to the Yellow mealworm being used in food products, resulting in a raft of new insect burger brands. The lesser mealworm is the fourth insect to be granted EFSA approval.
Research conducted by Maastricht University confirmed that mealworm-derived protein is an equally great protein source to use for food production as protein derived from milk, which is often seen as the ‘gold standard’.
It’s also sustainable. One of the leaders in global insect farming, Ÿnsect, uses 98% less land compared to traditional livestock, thereby reducing carbon and biodiversity footprints. Shankar Krishnamoorthy, EVP and Chief Development Officer at Ÿnsect said “you only need one or two kilos of feed to produce 1kg of insect protein, as opposed to nine kilos for traditional beef.”
Over 2.5 billion people regularly eat insects as part of their day-to-day diet and whilst it used to be seen as “icky” in western economies, it is increasingly seen as a viable healthy alternative to rising food prices and environmental over-consumption by the food industry.
It is also incredibly vital to find another sustainable protein source to feed the population—the World Resources Institute predicts a 60% gap between supply and demand for protein by 2050, whilst the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) estimates that animal protein consumption will increase by 52% between 2007 and 2030.
Ÿnsect cultivates mealworm under its own patented process to make digestible protein and fertilizer products. These products can replace animal proteins currently used by fish and livestock farms, as well as animals proteins for pet food and fertilizers.
The EFSA assessment will now have to be confirmed by the European Commission, which will give the final authorisation for market approval in the European Union. After this, an endorsement will be needed by all EU Member States, before the products can go on sale.