edible cricket protein

Beetlemania: Edible bugs heading to $520M

The market size for edible insects could exceed $520 million by 2023, according to Global Market Insights.

A growing swarm of locusts is rising across the market. Sales of locusts and other bugs are set to hop beyond $520 million by 2023, according to a report from Global Market Insights. The company forecasts over 40 percent growth from 2016 to 2023. Views of insects as healthy alternative and sustainable protein sources will drive demand, say researchers.

The edible insect market size "may grow significantly, thanks to strong consumer awareness levels and acceptance," according to the report.

What are the most popular bugs for use in animal or human food these days? Beetles. In 2015, they dominated demand and were valued at $9.7 million, used mostly whole or in powder form for flour, protein bars and other snacks. Beetles and caterpillars together were responsible for more than 45 percent of North American sales in 2015. Researchers predict grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (yes, they’re all different critters, but can anyone identify each by flavor?) could grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 42 percent by 2023.

As sales continue to grow, more regulations will be critical. "While bug-based foods are sold across the U.S. as well as EU, participants are somewhat in the dark with respect to labeling and selling guidelines," according to the report.

Meanwhile, new products, financing and public interest continue to grow. "The industry is less than five years old, but it’s astounding how many companies brought products to market and received significant investments," Robert Nathan Allen, president of the educational nonprofit Little Herds, told newhope.com.

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