Woven Network aims to support the growth of the Insects as Food & Feed (IFF) sector as well as research relating to all aspects of this. Our focus is to facilitate, as best we can, the UK in playing an active part in this movement. We are fortunate to be able to draw on the advice and support of a wide range of people with varying expertise, forming our Expert Panel below. They have kindly agreed to take questions from Woven members that might be of interest to others in order to support the sharing of information within the IFF sector around the world.
Arnold van Huis – Emeritus professor of Wageningen University & chief editor of the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed (JIFF).
Benjamin Kennedy – Invertebrate vet and steering committee member of the Veterinary Invertebrate Society.
Casey Woodward – Head of Business Development at the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL).
David Drew – Co-Founder & Executive Director of AgriProtein, South Africa.
Gary Bartlett – Founder & Business Consultant, Grub Consultancy.
Jo Wise – Managing Director of Monkfield Nutrition Ltd.
Robert Nathan Allen – Chairman of the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture (NACIA).
Sarah Beynon – Senior Research Associate at the University of Oxford & owner of Dr. Beynon’s Bug Farm research centre.
Ying Feng – Head of the Research Institute of Resource Insects (RIRI), Kunming, China.
Arnold van Huis
Arnold van Huis is emeritus professor of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He worked from 1974 to 1979 in Nicaragua for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on integrated pest management (IPM) in food grains. From 1982 to 1985 he coordinated a regional crop protection training project in Niger for eight Sahelian countries. From 1985 to 2015 he worked as tropical entomologist at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and has been responsible for a number of IPM and biological control projects in the tropics. He is a world leading expert on insects as food and feed. In 2013 he published with FAO a book “Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security” which has been downloaded seven million times.
He is a world leading expert on insects as food and feed. In 2013 he published with FAO a book “Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security” which has been downloaded seven million times. He is also the first author of the “The Insect Cookbook” published in 2014 by Columbia University Press. In 2014 he organized with FAO a conference “Insects to feed the world” attended by 450 participants from 45 countries. He is chief editor of the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed. On edible insects, he (co)authored ten book chapters, and 20 refereed and 10 non-refereed publications. In September 2017 he published as main editor a book “Insects as food and feed: from production to consumption”.
Benjamin is a Royal Veterinary College graduate currently practicing as a small animal/exotic vet alongside research into the application of clinical techniques and expertise in invertebrate species. Through this he has a growing caseload of invertebrates from zoological and commercial collections.
In addition to his veterinary medicine degree, Benjamin has a bachelors in biochemistry and genetics and a masters in the molecular biology and pathology of viruses. Benjamin is involved in several invertebrate societies, including the steering committee of the Veterinary Invertebrate Society, through which he is a co-editor of the Veterinary Invertebrate Society Journal. He is also a member of the British Bee Veterinary Association, Royal Entomological Society and the British Tarantula Society. Benjamin regularly publishes articles and presents his research at conferences to raise awareness of invertebrate medicine.
Benjamin feels it is important for the veterinary profession to lend its support and help to the insect rearing sector. The application of veterinary principles can not only ensure a more productive system, but also a better kept and healthier insect.
Dr. Casey Woodward & the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) offer Woven and its members:
Market Intelligence into the UK livestock markets (monogastrics & ruminants); Brokering services with relevant parties across the UK livestock supply chain; Targeted grant advice and support.
David is an international marketer, technologist and entrepreneur. David graduated into a deregulating telecoms world, at the outset of the Internet boom and spent the first decade of his career working for the world’s largest Telecoms and Internet businesses in Europe and the USA.
In 2003 he moved to Cape Town and cofounded the Dialogue Group, Africa’s first international business process outsourcer and grew it to over three thousand employees before listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2007. In 2009, Nasdaq listed Globecomm, acquired Carrier2Carrier, the satellite communications business David conceived four years earlier.
In 2010 he co-founded AgriProtein, developing sustainable solutions to the world’s protein crisis. David and his Team turn waste streams, into valuable animal feeds, with outrageously positive impact on our oceans and carbon emissions. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were early financiers of their environmental technology. AgriProtein won the United Nations Prize for African Innovation and the 2018 Sunday Times & Virgin Entrepreneur Award.
Gary is a consultant and educator within the edible insect industry. Whilst spending over 20 years in retail, he managed multi-million pound stores across the UK, including London’s West End, where he built a reputation for achieving ground-breaking customer service and instilling exceptional store standards.
In 2012, Gary set up Bush Grub Ltd and developed a range of original edible insect products licensed through ITV to their award winning show, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! Gary also developed a range of bespoke products, again for ITV, and licensed to their annual charity fundraising event, Text Santa. Gary joined the Tobar Group in 2016 where he continued to grow the I’m A Celebrity range whilst developing and bringing to market a range of energy and protein bars licensed with Bear Grylls – the first time that the world renowned TV adventurer had endorsed a food product.
In 2019, Gary started Grub Consultancy and advises a number of businesses, especially start ups, in developing and bringing to market products and services within the edible insect industry. Within this role Gary also holds talks for young people in order to help educate the next generation by promoting edible insects as an environmental and sustainable source of protein.
Gary is an active member of the Woven Network, the UK’s network for businesses and researchers looking at the opportunities of insect protein within the human food chain.
Jo started breeding insects commercially around 30 years ago, principally supplying the reptile food market. Today, his company, Monkfield Nutrition Ltd, employs 120 people in the UK, is the largest commercial breeder of insects in the UK, and has just relocated to larger premises giving them significantly increased capacity to be able to supply the human food market. They have 4 species of crickets available for the market, Acheta domesticus (house cricket), Gryllodes sigillatus (banded cricket), Gryllus bimaculatus (black cricket) and Gryllus assimilis (Silent cricket), as well as the Desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. They have a supply capability of around 700kg of dried product per week.
Robert Nathan Allen
Robert Nathan Allen (RNA) founded the Austin nonprofit Little Herds in 2013 to be an educational resource to the public about the nutritional and environmental benefits of edible insects. He previously worked with Aspire Food Group to start the country’s first farm in Texas growing insects for food; co-founded the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture (NACIA), a trade association for Insects as Food and Feed; co-founded GrubTubs, a startup upcycling Austin’s wasted food nutrients into high quality chicken feed using insects; and co-founded New Millennium Proteins to help build the global supply chain for insect-ingredients. He regularly consults with companies and organisations interested in the growing BugAg (or insect-agriculture) movement and is an industry expert for a variety of publications and media outlets, including NPR, Reuters, the Associated Press, National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Newsweek, Popular Science, Entrepreneur, Buzzfeed and more.
Dr. Sarah Beynon is an academic entomologist, ecologist and farmer with a doctorate from the University of Oxford (with which she won the international Wallace Award for the best doctorate on insects written in the English language). Sarah was named as an ‘emerging legend’ in the 2017 Wales – Year of Legends, is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. In 2013, Sarah set up Dr. Beynon’s Bug Farm (or “The Bug Farm”), a research centre, working farm and visitor attraction with a focus on invertebrates, sustainable agriculture and delicious food.
The farm is also the home of award-winning chef (and Sarah’s partner) Andy Holcroft’s, restaurant “Grub Kitchen”, the first full-time entomophagy restaurant in the UK. The Bug Farm won the Best Start-Up Business of the Year in 2016 and the Sustainable/CSR/Green Business of the Year in Wales in 2017, with Grub Kitchen scooping the 2017 Innovative Business of the Year for Wales in 2017. In 2017, Sarah and Andy set up Bug Farm Foods: manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing insect-based foods and ingredients, and were filmed by BBC1 for “The Bug Grub Couple”, a stand-alone documentary following the development of their Cricket Cookies.
Dr. Ying Feng is a researcher at the Research Institute of Resource Insects (RIRI), Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), Kunming, Yunnan Provence, China. Her main research interests involve the utilisation of insects as medicinal, food and feed ingredients. The group, led by Ying, has conducted research on edible insects for 20 years, with research scope covering entomophagy culture, nutritional value, food safety, health care and medical uses of insects, harvesting insects from the wild, and the mass-rearing of edible and medicinal insects in China.