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Canada invests millions into insect-based food manufacturers

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The Canadian government has reportedly invested $8.5 million in an insect agricultural company – Aspire.

Aspire has confirmed on its website that it is currently building the world’s largest automated, food-grade cricket farm in London, Ontario. Company co-founder Mohammed Ashour said he was grateful to Canada for investing in Aspire’s first commercial facility. The money will boost the company’s ability to grow and monitor billions of crickets for use in the human and pet food industries. A similar cricket farm was developed by Aspire in Austin, Texas, five years ago.

The investment in Aspire announced on 27 June 2022 follows a $6 million investment in Entosystem Inc to build a new, fully operational facility in Quebec in April 2022. The new facility is said to increase the production of sustainable, insect-based animal food products.

According to a statement by Canada Agriculture and Agri-Food, funding for Entosystem Inc will support the production of the black soldier fly. This will be used to produce high-quality, protein-rich products (including flour) to feed animals. The statement goes on to say that the investment will contribute to sustainable food systems and help Canada to eliminate, reduce or repurpose food waste.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, stated that “[t]he use of insects to speed up the process of composting food waste is a promising solution for the environment. By recovering products intended for landfill, Entosystem creates value-added products, generates a zero-waste circular economy and contributes to the achievement of our climate targets. The Government of Canada’s investment in the company’s new facilities will allow it to increase its production of alternative proteins for animal feed and fertilizers, which are essential inputs for the agricultural industry.”

These investments form part of the broader Canadian Agricultural Partnership (2018-2023). The partnership is a $3 billion investment to strengthen and grow Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector through simplified and streamlined programs and services, cost-sharing initiatives and federal activities and programs.

Insect farming is not only gaining popularity in Canada and the US. On April 21, 2022, South African company Inseco secured $5.3 million in seed funding. Inseco uses black soldier fly larvae to transform organic waste into high-quality proteins, oils and fertilizers. According to its co-founder Simon Hazell, ‘now more than ever, we’re seeing the importance of sustainability – and the responsibility that we have, to be a more resource-efficient society for future generations.’ He went on to say that ‘at Inseco, we believe that insects will play an essential role in this transition, becoming a widely available source of sustainable protein, and an important form of nutrition to help meet the food demands of the future.’

Another start-up company in France – Ÿnsect, has raised $425 million since its foundation in 2011. Ÿnsect aims to ‘revolutionize the food chain’ by producing more for less. The company is set to produce 100,000 tonnes of insect products per year.

Rising global investment in insect farming technologies is an ominous sign of things to come.

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