The insect protein market is projected to reach USD 4562 million by 2027, from USD 342.66 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 45% during the forecast period. The shift in consumer preferences toward insect protein instead of animal and dairy protein, owing to the rising concerns regarding sustainability and increased private and public support for the new protein sources in both developing and developed economies are some of the key factors driving the growth.
Insect protein is derived either through the direct intake of complete insect or through processed products. Insects, such as crickets, mealworms, black soldier flies, grasshoppers, and ants contain an excellent amount of protein, which can be easily brought up in limited accessibility of resources. These insects have been an essential part of traditional food in more than 110 countries, mainly concentrated in Southeast Asia.
Edible insects are, in general, rich in protein, fat, and energy and can be a significant source of vitamins and minerals. They are a sustainable alternative protein source in feed and food. Edible insects can contribute to food and feed security. They have great potential as an environmentally friendly alternative for future food systems. Such advantages are projected to bode well for the demand in the forthcoming years.
From the manufacturing standpoint, insects are utilized for their high feed conversion efficiency. Crickets, for instance, require approximately 2 kg of feed to gain about 1 kg of body weight. Besides, other omnivorous insects are typically reared on organic waste. Thus, insects score high when it comes to feeding conversion efficiency over pigs or cattle. Such factors have been encouraging prospective protein ingredient manufacturers to tap into the marketspace for insect protein.
Animal nutrition is a major industry for European insect protein manufacturers. In the pet food section, the product is well-suited to the particular needs of pets such as cats, dogs, and fish, owing to the high palatability and digestibility. Numerous European pet food companies are integrating insects into their feed formula, notably as a means to diversify their product range e.g. in hypoallergenic products. This trend is expected to continue to grow in the next few years, fueling the growth of the overall market.
EnviroFlight, LCC (US), nextProtein (France), Thailand Unique (Thailand), Proti-Farm Holding NV (Netherlands), Chapul, LLC (US), Cricket Flours LLC (US), Crik Nutrition (Canada), Seek Food LLC (US), Entomo Farms (Canada), and Haocheng Mealworms Inc. (China) are some of the key players in the global insect protein market.
In most European and North American countries, human consumption of insects is very low and often considered culturally inappropriate or even taboo. However, considering the growing population in the world and the increasing demand for production of traditional pork, beef, and chicken meat, insects are seriously considered as a source of animal protein. Thus, in these regions, since the acceptance of edible insects is low, manufacturers have been introducing insect protein powder-based products in the form of protein bars, protein powder, pasta, and bakery products. Since the insects are not directly visible to the consumers, such products are easily accepted. Thus, many companies manufacturing insect protein powders have been emerging and are expanding their production capacities in North American and European countries.