I’m not a celebrity, get me out of here! Crunch time for bugs

by | Jan 19, 2022 | News

Insects are popular delicacies and a cheap source of protein across the globe but the trend has not caught on in Aotearoa.

Edible insects appeared in protein bars, lollipops and chocolates as the perfect prank gift and hell, even on top of Hell Pizza in New Zealand in 2016.

But the edible insect industry has not grown as it hoped.

Humans have eaten bugs for centuries for medicinal and nutritional benefits. While there is little evidence of medicinal benefits, there is extensive evidence of the nutritional benefits of eating particular insects.

Bugs convert feed to biomass more efficiently relative to their size than larger animals like cows, which makes them more nutritious.

They are more environmentally sustainable to grow as they can be fed food scraps, require little water and produce fewer greenhouse gases.

But the ick factor of eating bugs appears to outweigh the nutritional and sustainable benefits of eating bugs for Western consumers.

Louise Burnie, owner of Eat Crawlers, say most insect food is still bought for the novelty and makes for a popular Christmas gift.

While bugs provide cheap nutrition in other parts of the world, they are very expensive in New Zealand.

Burnie says increasing freight costs have made it more expensive to ship insects from Asia.

Malcolm Diack is the country’s largest commercial locust grower. He supplies locusts to restaurants for speciality dishes but mainly to zoos for animal feed.

As the locust is native to New Zealand, there are no issues with the Ministry for Primary Industries or the Department of Conservation.

Diack has always been interested in insects and is not concerned about consumers’ reluctance to eat them.

“It’s definitely an industry ahead of its time. If not me then someone else will do it.” he says.

Original story sourced from newsroom.co.nz .

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Peter Wright

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