Insect Market To Explode: EU Gives Green Light To Eating Mealworm

insect market to explode eu gives green light to eating mealworm

Mealworm burgers have been on sale in Swiss supermarkets since 2017 AFP via Getty Images

Yellow mealworm is soon to appear on European menus, in bars, smoothies and burgers, after the EU decided that they are safe for human consumption. It’s just the first insect that will be hitting supermarket shelves–the EU is likely to approve others soon.

Plant-based and alternative meat options are not niche products anymore and offer huge investment opportunities–global investment rose from €25.4 million ($31 million) in 2016 to €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2020.

A sub-section of this is insect-based, for both human and animal consumption, but in the EU, development has been lagging because of a ban on the sale of insects-as-food in most countries.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) today reported that mealworms are safe for human consumption. It’s a breakthrough moment for large companies that produce foods containing insects which have been lobbying the EU to allow the consumption of these products in all European countries–they are currently sold in U.K., Dutch, Belgian, Danish and Finnish supermarkets because these countries interpreted a 1997 law more permissibly than other countries.

The 1997 law said that any food that had not been eaten before that year should be authorised as “novel foods” but countries such as the U.K. decided this law didn’t refer to animals used for food and therefore, they could sell those products.

The UN has been trying to get people to eat more insects for a very long time, since it published its report, Edible Insects, in 2013; many insiders believe that it’s one way of providing enough food for a growing population–insects are a great source of protein.

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