Edible insects are part of the solution in the transition toward a more resilient and sustainable food system
The impact of insects
The global protein challenge:
• Today 85% of our arable land is already in use and is not enough to meet the increasing demand for primary proteins (crops) production which is expected to grow by 50% until 2050*
• Currently used protein sources are resource-intensive and to meet the demands of the growing population, which is expected to reach 9,8 Bn by 2050, we need to search for alternative protein resources**
• Commercial insect farming is considered to have a low environmental footprint, requiring minimal water, energy, and land resources***
Edible insects are the sustainable choice for reconnecting the agri-food chains - from ’farm to fork’ and beyond:****
• Farmed insects reduce the dependency on imported sources of protein - they generate local products, using underutilized by-products from the agri-food industries****
• Out of the 90 million tons of food wasted annually in the EU, circa 1/3 could be safely upcycled through insect bioconversion****
• Insects can help to create a circular food system - they are nature's most powerful upcyclers****
• Traditional protein sources like meat and soy use up a large amount of land
• In terms of land use, vertical principles used in insect farms are highly productive
• Land (m2) required to produce 100 g of protein: mealworms – 1,8; beef – 163,6; pulses (peas) – 3,4*****
Greenhouse gas emissions
• Food accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions*****
• The FAO considers that livestock accounts for 14,5% of GHG emissions******
• Greenhouse gases (kg CO2-e) produced for 100 g of protein: mealworms – 2,7; beef – 49,89; pulses (peas) – 0,44*****
• 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture*****
• Insects require minimum water resource
• Water (l) required to produce 100 g of protein: mealworms – 2300; beef – 11200; pulses (peas) – 1800*****
* FAO, 2021. World Food and Agriculture – Statistical Yearbook 2021. Rome.
** FAO, 2022. 2050: A third more mouths to feed.
*** Ponce-Reyes R and Lessard BD (2021) "Edible Insects - A roadmap for the strategic growth of an emerging Australian industry", CSIRO, Canberra.
****Edible insects have the potential to reconnect the agri-food chains - from ’farm to fork’ and beyond, IPIFF.
*****Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2020) "Environmental Impacts of Food Production".
Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food
******FAO, 2022. Key facts and findings. https://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/