The demand for milk and meat products is rapidly growing with rising population across the globe. Animal derived food products are considered as rich source of protein and are extensively used in both human and animal diets. However, the rapidly growing demand and depletion of meat producing animals has motivated the need for alternative protein sources. Insect protein evolved as the effective source of protein for both food and feed applications. Several insect species including crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, ants, wasps, termites, beetles, and bees are used to extract protein. The Global insect protein Market valued USD 161 million in 2018 and is estimated to reach USD 1397 million by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 31% during the forecast period.
Insect protein is on rise,Insects outrank pork, chicken, and beef in terms of protein content and provide very high feed conversion efficiency over animal and marine species and insects. Insects also has a rich concentration of minerals and vitamins that on consumption enhance the wellbeing of human beings. From supply side, insect rearing is more sustainable than pigs, poultry, and cattle in terms of land, feed and water utilization and emit significantly fewer greenhouse gasses, thus making it an effective alternative protein source to animal meat. As of 2018, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations documented more than 1,900 insect species as edible for human and animal consumption.
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The major food processing companies across the globe are focusing towards use of insect protein as an ingredient in their formulations. Interest on sustainable procurement is also aiding for the growing demand for insect protein. Flour evolved as the major form of insect protein owing to its ease of use texture for food products. However, protein bars made of insect protein is on rise particularly in the U.S. and European nations. The market for insect protein bars is likely to grow at a CAGR of 42% till 2025.
Crickets are the widely used insect species for protein generation owing to its high feed conversion efficiency. According to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, crickets require six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. Cricket protein is commercially available in powder form and cricket protein based consumer products such as cricket ice creams, cricket granola, cricket meatballs, and cricket pasta are likely to gain consumer interest in near future.
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The emerging market of insect protein is likely to witness consolidation with the likes of global food giants. The high growth potential of the market is motivating companies such as McDonald's Corporation and Cargill, Incorporated towards direct entry into the business. Several acquisitions occurred in the recent times entrusted the market growth and growing competition in the market.
• Aspire Food Group, a U.S. based manufacturer of human and animal grade cricket powder acquired Exo in March 2018. Exo is involved in the production of cricket protein bar. The acquisition, first of its kind marked the integration of value chain insect protein market. After acquisition, Exo started utilization of Aspire’s cricket powder for making its bars and Aspire has re-branded its Aketta line of cricket based products as Exo
• In December 2018, AgriProtein that produces protein rich meal and oil from flies and larvae acquired Belgian insect feed company Millibeter to expand its business network in European region
• In September 2017, Protix acquired Fair Insects BV, an insect breeding company involved in harvesting crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers. The acquisition enabled Protix to enhance its product portfolio
The market is also witnessing business expansion activities from small to medium sized insect protein manufacturers across the globe. These companies are building new insect protein factories to increase their production capacity. For instance,
• Vietnam based insect protein maker Entobel launched its production plant in March 2019. The company markets its insect protein for aquafarmers under the brand H-Meal.
• Currently, Aspire Food Group is capable of producing over 30,000 pounds of cricket protein annually with an insect raising capacity of 22 million crickets per month. However, the company is planning to expand its production facility to meet the demand from its recently acquired subsidiary Exo
The growing competition is likely to result in a price decline for insect proteins resulting in increased access to local processed food and snacks manufacturers. Chips, protein shakes, and chocolates would be the high growth product segments for insect protein in near future.
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