Edible insects have been a key part of human diets in some regions, but still in a number of societies, there is immense distaste on their consumption. The majority of these edible insects are taken from forest habitats and also a number of innovations have started in mass-rearing systems in a number of nations.
The increasing presence of edible insects within local food cultures is driving the growth of the market for edible insects. There are a variety of edible insects such as mealworm, grasshoppers, locusts, caterpillar, termites, beetles and others. Edible insects have a large number of advantages associated with them such as:
- Edible insects emit comparatively fewer GHGs and very little ammonia
- They have huge feed-conversion efficiency
- They need very less water as compared to cattle rearing
- Edible insects can also be reared in organic side streams, thus lowering environmental contamination, while increasing the value of waste
- They have a lower risk of zoonotic infection transmission
Edible insects have started to gain demand from a number of regions. Regions such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa are the leading markets for edible insects. In addition, the market is also growing in such as Europe, North America, and Rest of the World (RoW). The extent of the market in Africa and Latin America has been discussed as under:
- Africa: Insects are found in large quantities all through the African continent and when there is a scarcity of staples, these insects become as key food sources. Especially in rainy season, when hunting fish is problematic, edible insects play a major role for food security. In Africa, caterpillars are majorly popular in rainy season, though their availability can be impacted even in the same country depending on the environmental conditions. The markets within Kinshasa, which is the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has a year round caterpillar supply.
- Latin America: Within Mexico, majority of the people have a deep understanding of the animal and plant species. In Oaxaca, Mexico, chapulines harvest begins with the rainy season onset and goes on all through the season. Within Amazon, insect collection is a seasonal affair. The beetles are also harvested when they comes up from the soil in the grasslands and meadows and then are easy to collect. However, not all insects are harvested in North America within the rainy season
Thus, edible insects present key opportunities for merging modern science and traditional knowledge within both developing and developed nations and this market is poised to expand in a number of nations globally in forthcoming years.