Woven Network Newsletter – Feb 2019

Woven Newsletter - Featured Image

With the start of the new year, Woven has fully kicked back into gear and is in the process of creating greater value for its membership.

Here’s the link to the very first free newsletter of the year, available to all (past issues can be viewed here).

This Issue’s Contents:

  • New members of Woven Network Expert Panel
  • Forum open to non-members
  • Trade Fair proposal
  • Membership benefits
  • Black soldier fly on BBC Farming Today
  • Ugandan grasshopper harvest
  • Research Institute for Resource Insects, Yunnan, China
  • Business news
  • ‘Soy Alert’ Friends of the Earth
  • EU hygiene rules for insects
  • Zero Waste Scotland meeting report
  • Events
  • Meetings
  • Publications

To sign up to this free monthly(ish) newsletter–designed to keep you up-to-date with everything happening in the Insects as Food & Feed sector–click here.

For our members, links to previous members-only communications will be posted under In-depth Articles (for which a membership will be needed to access).

Entoveganism: Veganism with a Six-Legged Twist

Entovegan article Featured Image

In May 2017, health-conscious John Galt decided to try the one diet he had never tried before. Curious about the vegan hype, he wanted to try it out himself, but with a controversial six-legged twist.

“When I noticed really positive changes in my body after about 6 weeks of mostly just eating a plant-based diet, I decided to do it for the rest of the year, but incorporate insects into my diet as a larger percentage of what I was eating,” explains Josh.

There are three main reasons that people try a vegan diet, because they love animals, for environmental reasons and for health reasons. While Josh doesn’t have a problem with people who eat meat or animal by-products, he believes that a vegan is both healthier and more ethical, however his main drive to entoveganism is his own personal health.

“Insects are the most sustainable form of animal protein,” Josh explains. “The comparison between 1kg of cricket protein (which can be grown literally in a concrete box) vs 1kg of beef product is incredible. The contrast between the amount of feed, water and land needed to produce it, plus the difference in the greenhouse gasses – insects win hands down.”

His original 6-month entovegan trial lead to him adopting this diet and lifestyle full time. He has also been promoting entoveganism on his website as well as social media, however he finds it difficult to imagine a world where everyone was entovegan.

“There would be a drastic improvement in overall environmental health,” says Josh. “Ultimately, there are still many unknowns in the whole Entomophagy industry, but from what we do know, it’s extremely promising as a food source. If toasted cricket chips start to replace MSG-covered GMO corn chips, for example, that’s going to a good thing for people’s diet in general.”

A diet is something extremely personal and can define who the person is. It seems that recently people have become really disconnected from their food – not thinking about where it came from or what it is doing to their wellbeing. Food is one of the greatest variables in our health and it is important for people to reconnect with their food, to have the right to know where it comes from and to be able to choose what they put in their bodies.

When it comes to the ethics of eating insects, Josh strongly believes that there are correct ways to do it. After pointing out that since insects don’t have a central nervous system, it is hard to prove that they are able to feel pain. In addition to this, farmed insects are ethically “put to sleep” usually by placing them on ice or in large freezers where they simply go to sleep and freeze, supposedly painlessly.

“There is less argument about the moral virtue of eating insects than there actually can be about eating commercially grown vegetables plants are also shown to respond with “feelings” to music or anger, but the biggest issue is that harvesting vegetables and grains actually kills innumerable small animals like field mice, bunnies, birds and reptiles.”

There is still so much that we don’t know about insects and are just now beginning to explore. Are there cures for diseases in entomophagy? Are there bugs that are high in antioxidants? Are there superfood insects? Is there an insect with a fast life-cycle that is the perfect nutritional profile for humans?

“Entomophagy just about acceptance,” Josh concludes. “100 years ago, lobster was the food of poor people and prisoners. Now it’s eaten by Jay-Z and Beyoncé paired with $1,000 bottles of bubbly. Insects are far more sustainable than lobster, and arguably even more nutritious.”

For more information on Josh and Entoveganism, click on the banner below:

Core tenets of the Entovegan philosophy

Top 50 Edible Insects List

Top 50 Edible Insects List

What’s the best thing about edible insects? There are just so many different varieties. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree on them all, but once your door to entomophagy (eating insects) finally opens, the choice is just mind-blowing — it would be near impossible to sample the full variety of flavours on offer in a single lifetime: there are ants that taste of citrus, nutty crickets, arachnids like soft-shell crab, and even grubs that resemble bacon!

Chefs like David George Gordon, Daniel Creedon and Peter Gorton have been exploring these flavours for years, but are still really just scratching the surface.The map below shows the countries where the most insects are eaten — you’ll notice Europe and North America are pretty weak by comparison.

Global distribution of edible insects
Global distribution of recorded edible insect species (Jongema, 2012)

Yde Jongema from the Department of Entomology at Wageningen University compiled an exhaustive edible insects list of 2,040 species from across the world, a small selection of which are shown in the list below. The largest group of insects eaten worldwide is the Order Coleoptera, or the beetles and weevils, at around 31% of the total number of recorded edible species. Caterpillars are of the Order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), and true bugs here, refers to the Order Hemiptera, including things like cicadas, stink bugs and giant water bugs.

Recorded edible insect species
Recorded species abundance in edible insect groups - Total species: 2,040 (Adapted from: Jongema, 2012)

Edible Insects List

So here’s our list of 50 of the best / most interesting edible bugs out there. This is by no means as thorough a collection as Jongema’s research, and several groups like ants or grasshoppers are lumped together due to the sheer number in each, but hopefully you get an idea of the huge variety on offer. Caveat: I use the terms insects to refer to arthropods and annelids, so forgive the generalisation. Image credits and references are at the end. But first, I couldn’t resist putting this video in. Enjoy!

Agave Weevils
Agave Weevils

Also known as an Agave Worm, the Agave Snout Weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus) is a type of beetle, but is often confused with caterpillars of a butterfly (Aegiale hesperiaris) and a moth (Hypopta agavis). All three species feed on agave plants and can be found as proof of quality in tequila and mezcal bottles. They are eaten fried and are even sold canned in Mexico.


There are a whole range of ants eaten across the world, from honeypot ants (Camponotus inflatus) in Australia to green tree ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) in China, India and Thailand, carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) in Indonesia and the Philippines, and weaver ants (Oecophylla longinoda) in the Congo. Leafcutter ants (Atta spp.) in Colombia and Brazil taste like a bacon-pistachio fusion and the lemon ants (Myrmelachista schumanni) of the Amazon are named after their citrus taste.

Honeypot ants

Aphids (Aphididae gen.) are more of a source of liquid than food since all they really eat is plant sap, sucked up directly from the plant’s phloem with their syphons. They leave behind a sugary honeydew which is exploited by people in Mexico and the Middle East, clearly taking after ants, some of which are famous for herding and protecting their collections of aphids. Aphid honeydew can taste either bitter or sweet depending on the plants on which they feed.


Bagworms are pretty strange creatures. They are actually caterpillars of the bagworm moth (Psychidae gen.) and they build protective casings around themselves from twigs and leaves. Their larvae are eaten in Mexico and Equatorial Africa, and their pupae, called fangalabola in Madagascar, are harvested en masse as a delicacy.

Bamboo Worms
Bamboo Worms

Bamboo worms, or bamboo borers, are grass moth larvae (Omphisa fuscidentalis) that feed on bamboo pulp in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and parts of China. It’s called rot duan, or express train, in Thai due to its shape and can be found at almost every street food vendor in the country. It’s sometimes confused with larvae of the wood-boring beetle (Dinoderus minutus), another bamboo pest, but these are not as popular as food.


Honey bee drones (Apis spp.) are eaten in China and are also used as traditional medicine, but by far the most popular way to eat them throughout the world is in their larval form. Bee larvae, either from honey bees, bumblebees (Bombus spp.), carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.) or stingless bees (Trigona spp.), are eaten in many countries throughout Asia, central and southern Africa, South America, and the West Indies. It’s hardly surprising that they are said to taste like creamy royal jelly, considering that’s all they are fed!

Cactus Weevils
Cactus Weevils

Eaten as both larvae and adults in Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela, cactus weevils (Metamasius spp.) are from the same family as agave weevils and feed on cacti throughout their life cycle. The are seen as pests because the larvae bore through the cactus and the adults eat the plant itself, often killing it.


Centipedes are one of many edible insects you can find as you explore Beijing’s night markets. They are more of a box to tick for the adventurous eater than anything else, thanks to their scary appearance. Unfortunately, those street food stalls tend to fry them to a crisp so you don’t end up tasting much more that what can only be described as dried spaghetti sticks.

Christmas Beetles
Christmas Beetles

Commonly eaten by the Aboriginal people of Australia, Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus viridiaeneus) larvae had the attention of the Western world since 1842, when Frederick Hope wrote on their consumption, “Should this opinion be further substantiated, and the food prove palatable and wholesome, the settler, from policy, should patronize as food these dainties which are so highly prized by the wild Australian, and thereby secure the crops of future years by feeding on the insects capable of destroying them…”.


One of the few insects eaten in the US, cicadas (Magicicada spp.) are said to be most tender and tasty just after they molt. They are pretty nutty so folks from Nashville have them as sweet treats cooked with buttermilk. You’ll also find them eaten in China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico and India.

Cochineal Bugs

Cochineals are scale bugs from the Superfamily Coccoidea that suck the sap from prickly pear cacti. Although variants are eaten in China and the Canary Islands, Cochineals are more famous for being the source of red carmine dye. This dye has supposedly been used in the Americas since the 10th century and until recently, was used by Starbucks to colour their Frappuccinos. It is still found in a whole load of foods, from jams and cakes to sausages and marinades.


These may be the epitome of filth as far as the Western mind is concerned, but when they are fed only on salad and fruit, they can actually taste pretty good and are quite healthy. Just ask a few Australian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Malay, Mexican or Brazilian entomophagists!


Eaten throughout the world in far too many countries to list here, crickets and their various varieties are probably the most commonly used edible insect. They can be fried, boiled, sautéed, and when roasted, taste like roast nuts. They are also said to take on the flavour of their food, a characteristic being exploited by Entomo Farms in Canada to make their crickets taste of apple and cinnamon. The cricket industry is taking off in North America, but is still nowhere near the 20,000 or so registered cricket farms in Thailand.

Diving Beetles

Diving beetles (Dytiscidae gen.) are eaten throughout East and Southeast Asia. In China, they are thought to have an anti-diuretic effect and are eaten not out of nutritional necessity (although they are healthy, as most insects are), but out of cultural tradition, mostly in more affluent areas. In fact, it’s a common misconception that insects are only eaten by the poor since many species cost much more than traditional meat.

Diving Beetles
Dragonflies & Damselflies

Dragonflies and their close relatives, damselflies, make up the Order Odonata and are eaten throughout the world, from Central Africa and South America to Asia and Papua New Guinea. They are eaten either in adult or laval form (pictured). Indonesians collect the adults in flight by waving a sticky reed around in the air.


“Slimy, yet satisfying!” Pumbaa was right on the money because earthworms are full of nutrients. The downside is that they are also full of dirt so need to be purged before they can be eaten. They are often pre-dried to get rid of the sliminess, and then used as an ingredient in a stirfry, for example.

Emperor Moth
Emperor Moths

Emperor moth caterpillars (from the Saturniidae family) are actually quite a common edible insect in food throughout the African continent. They have a number of genera and can be found in most African markets. Unsurprisingly (and a growing trend in the article), they are also eaten in Mexico.


Rich in fatty acids to the same extent as in some fish oils, pupae of the common house fly (Musca spp.) are said to taste “sort of like black pudding”. That’s according to David Gracer, a US entomophagy advocate and TEDx speaker on the subject. Another fly of interest is the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens). Jason Drew, founder of AgriProtein in South Africa and another TED speaker, uses these and a range of other fly larvae to process organic food waste into livestock feed, insect oils and fertilisers.

Black Soldier Fly
Giant Water Bugs
Giant Water Bugs

Although also eaten in Mexico, Venezuela, China, Japan and the Congo, these toe-biters as they are referred to in Thailand, are probably most famous with tourists there as they are among the most fearsome looking of street food options. Some say they are like clam-flavoured potatoes and others like a salty, fruity taste. Thai locals like them best pregnant and full of creamy eggs!

Golden Orb-Weavers

Also known as banana spiders in the US, golden orb-weavers (Nephilidae gen.) have around 75 discovered species and are spread throughout the tropics and southern hemisphere. These are the spiders you can imagine walking face-first into on a jungle trek and they are large enough to catch and eat bats. That said, they’re supposed to be delicious — a bit like peanut butter when fried.

Golden Orb Weaver

Like crickets, and also from the Order Orthoptera, grasshoppers are eaten almost everywhere in orange on that map I showed you above. Not all grasshoppers are edible since there are thousands of species, but perhaps the most thoroughly exploited are Sphenarium spp., called Chapulines in Mexico. They are most often toasted on a clay stove with lime, garlic, salt and agave worm extract to add in more complex flavours.


Essentially wasps on steroids, hornets are from the same family (Vespidae) as their smaller counterparts. They are eaten in either larval or pupal form in China, Japan, and across Southeast Asia.


Hornworms are the larvae of hummingbird moths and are a prominent pest species for the commercial plants they eat. The tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) is found throughout North America, and requires a starvation period before you eat it due to its ability to bioaccumulate and secrete nicotine. The closely related tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) is said to be like a green tomato / shrimp / crab combo in taste.

Huntsman Spiders

Another spider for good measure. Huntsman spiders (Sparassidae gen.) are composed of over a thousand species and are found everywhere there’s a temperate of tropical climate. These spiders can reach up to 12 inches in leg span and don’t build webs, but instead chase down their prey at speed, hence the name. Indonesians and Venezuelans call them food (amongst other names, I’m sure).

Huntsman Spider
Jewel Beetles
Jewel Beetles

The Buprestidae family, or the jewel beetles, are a massive group of around 15,000 species. Their larvae bore through wood, and some even through living trees, making them a serious pest problem. They are eaten throughout Africa, Southeast Asia and China, either as larvae or as adult beetles.

June Beetles

June beetles (Phyllophaga spp.) were traditionally roasted over coals by Native Americans, either as adults or larvae, and are said to taste like buttery walnuts. They are thought to be relatively safe to harvest from the wild as there are no inedible species that look like them in the regions they are found. As always though, harvest with care in areas free of pesticides.

June Beetle

Katydids are better known as bush crickets (Tettigoniidae gen.), but are actually closer relatives of grasshoppers than crickets. Much like these other hopping relatives of theirs, they are eaten pretty much everywhere they’re found: throughout Africa, South America, East and Southeast Asia, India and Papua New Guinea. David Gracer, bug sampler extraordinaire, says that they taste somewhere between chicken, shrimp and croutons.


Yet another insect eaten almost everywhere on our map, locusts, along with grasshoppers, crickets and katydids, are officially acknowledged as fit for human consumption in the Bible (Leviticus 11:22) — probably at least partly responsible for their popularity. They are said to taste somewhere between shrimp and sunflower seeds, and are especially delicious when fed on sesame leaves.

Longhorn Beetle
Longhorn Beetles

A rather large family of beetles with over 20,000 species, longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae gen.) are named after their antennae, which are sometimes longer than their bodies. One of the most popular edible insect families, longhorns are eaten in almost as many of the same countries that katydids are, but unlike the latter, longhorns are also munched on throughout Oceania.


Much like dragonflies and damselflies, adult mayflies have short lifespans, even shorter in fact than the former two groups; the Order Ephemeroptera to which they belong is from the Greek for short-lived. Collected during their day-long swarms as mating adults, they are eaten in Kenya, Malawi, China and Japan.


Affectionately known to many in the entomophagy community as the gateway bug, mealworms are probably one of the first edible insects people ever try, mainly because they are super easy to raise, they have a great nutrition profile, and they taste really good (if you’re a fan of roasted nuts). They’re not actually worms at all, but are larvae of the darkling beetle (Tenebrio spp.), a small, black, non-biting, flightless beetle about a centimeter long that doesn’t mind crowded spaces and loves the dark —  perfect for farming!

Midges & Mosquitos

Both from the fly Order Diptera, midges (Chaoboridae gen. in particular) and mosquitos (Culicidae gen.) are the insects most people would probably describe as the biggest nuisance. That said, East Africans harvest midges by the net-full as they swarm over their many lakes, and Mexicans serve up mosquito eggs in tortillas with lime.

Mopane Worms
Mopane Worms

Again, not a worm, but a caterpillar of a particular species of emperor moth (Gonimbrasia belina). I realise emperor moths have already been covered, but their larvae get their own category due to their huge popularity throughout Southern Africa; that and they were my very first introduction to edible insects as a kid growing up there. I don’t quite remember the taste, but people say they’re a bit like biltong (South African jerky) which is amazing!

Palm Weevils

Packed with nutrition and essential fats, it’s not surprising that palm weevil larvae (Rhynchophorus spp.) are a staple insect throughout the world. They are eaten in China, Central and Western Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and Papua New Guinea. Many folks say they taste of bacon when cooked and the Malaysian dish, Sago Delight, has variations throughout Asia.

Palm Weevils
Rhinoceros Beetle
Rhinoceros Beetles

Most people are familiar with what adult rhinoceros beetles look like, but here’s one of their larvae. Unsurprisingly, the larvae are more palatable than the hard exoskeletons of the adults so this is what’s most commonly eaten. Widespread throughout the world and extremely nutritious, they are being touted as a significant protein source for impoverished regions in the future. Fun fact: rhino beetles are the strongest known animals (relatively), capable of lifting up to 850 times their own weight!


One of the more intimidating entries in this edible insects list, scorpions taste a little like shrimp with a nutty edge. Anyone who has been around Beijing’s night markets will be familiar with a variety of scorpions on sticks – the large black ones costing a tidy sum for the unsuspecting tourist.


Silkworms come from a range of families, but are all from the butterfly and moth Order Lepidoptera. Most commonly eaten in pupal form, they are a by-product of the silk industry and can be found in street markets in any silk-producing country. In South Korea, China and Japan, the Bombyx mori species is eaten and tastes a bit bland, much like tofu, but many people love them marinated in chili and garlic sauce.

Stag Beetles

Stag beetles (Lucanidae gen.) get their name from mandibles that the males use for fighting other males around mating time. They are the largest terrestrial insect in Europe, but are not generally on the European menu. They are, however, in Mexico, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar.

Stag Beetle
Stick Insect
Stick Insects

Also known as walking sticks, the members of the Phasmatodea family are another group of our true bugs. They’re not a hugely popular edible insect as they are only really eaten to a significant extent in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, probably because they are said to taste a bit like tree. Hardly surprising, given their diet.

Stink Bugs

Yet another true bug, stink bugs make up quite a large group of insects that are eaten throughout Southeast Asia, India, South America and Southern Africa. Their flavour varies from bitter to slightly sweet and tangy, and they are often eaten raw because they are known to sometimes survive being cooked!

Stink Bugs - "Thongolifha"

As is the case with mealworms, superworms (Zophobas spp.) are not worms. They’re actually very closely related to mealworms, also belonging to the Tenebrionidae family. Their taste is quite similar, but I tend to find them quite a bit blander. They are eaten all over, but particularly in Mexico and Venezuela.


A delicacy in Southeast Asia and especially important in the poorer regions of Cambodia, tarantulas are hunted and dug up from their holes to provide a much needed protein source for people that would usually live off not much more that rice. More on the spider hunters of Cambodia can be seen in Stefan Gates’ BBC documentary, Can Eating Insects Save the World? Tarantuals are eaten whole and are said to taste like soft-shell crab.


Termites are loaded with protein and they actually have a full essential amino acid profile. It’s no wonder then that they are eaten throughout the African continent and Southeast Asia. They are harvested straight from the ground or collected when they get their wings and swarm to find mates. Their taste depends on the species – some are nutty and others taste of mint.

Tiger Beetles

If you’re an insect geek, these guys are pretty cool. Tiger beetles (Cicindelinae gen.) are named after the way they hunt as the adults are extremely fast, both on the ground and in the air. Even the larvae are predatory, instead ambushing prey from their burrows, although not stealthy enough to evade Mexicans that collect them for the plate.

tiger beetle

Wasps are most commonly eaten in China, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia and the Congo, more often than not in their larval form. They are said to taste earthy and buttery, and according to Emperor Hirohito of early 20th century Japan, they go very well cooked with sugar and soy sauce, served with boiled rice!

Water Boatmen

Although these look like beetles, we’re dealing with another true bug here, again, eaten mostly in Mexico. Water boatmen (Corixidae gen.), as their name suggests, are aquatic insects that live in ponds and slow streams. Most are vegetarian, which is quite unusual for aquatic bugs. I’ve no idea what they taste like, but my garden pond may answer that question one day.

Water Boatman
Water Scorpion
Water Scorpions

Not related to true scorpions in any way more than appearance, water scorpions (Nepidae gen.) are actually the last of our true bugs on this list. They are, however, also ferocious ambush predators that will eat anything from insect larvae to tadpoles. You can find them on the menu in Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Madagascar and the Congo.


Waxworms (Pyralidae gen.) are caterpillars of the wax moth, sometimes called bee moths because they live in beehives and eat pretty much everything in there, other than the adult bees. They’re on the menu in China, Japan, Mexico and Brazil. Raised on bran and honey when farmed, Daniella Martin of Girl Meets Bug reckons they taste of a cross between pine nuts and enoki mushrooms. Watch her cook some up here!

witchetty grub
Witchetty Grubs

Another Australian Aboriginal favourite. Peter Menzel describes Witchetty grubs (Endoxyla leucomochla) in his book, Man Eating Bugs, as “like nut-flavored scrambled eggs and mild mozzarella, wrapped in a phyllo dough pastry”. They are a great find for those foraging for bugs, thanks to their very high protein and fat content.


Woodlice are not insects at all; they are crustaceans, so the term, land shrimp, used by Florence Dunkel in her 2012 TED talk really does apply here. Like lobsters, they turn red when cooked and according to Raymond Day, Edible Bug Farm’s avid survivalist, they do in fact taste of shrimp.


All images used were originally released under a Creative Commons Licence. I would like to thank all of the following photographers for their willingness to share their great work!

Agave Worms: Andy Sadler Ants: D Coetzee Aphids: Gustavo Mazzarollo Bagworm: Niko Malessa Bamboo Worms: Jeremiah Roth Bees: Max Westby Cactus Weevils: Pavel Kirillov Centipedes: Jun-Dai Bates-Kobashigawa Christmas Beetles: John Slaney Cicadas: Xiangrui Huang Cochineals: Frank Vincentz Cockroach: Squiddles Crickets: Sean Wallace Diving Beetles: Mark Robinson Dragonflies: The Tattooed Tentacle Earthworms: CAFNR Emperor Moth: Benard Dupont

Fly: Anita Gould Giant Water Bugs: Alpha Golden Orb-Weaver: Dick Culbert Grasshoppers: William Neuheisel Hornet: Toshihiro Gamo Hornworm: Brad Smith Huntsman Spider: Bill & Mark Bell Jewel Beetles: Jean & Fred June Beetle: BlueRidgeKitties Katydid: Michael Schmidt Locusts: Hiroshi Yoshinaga Longhorn Beetle: Giovzaid85 Mayflies:Andrés Morya Mealworms: Wm Jas Midge: Joe Lapp Mopane Worms: Happy.apple Palm Weevils: Leo_theonlyone

Rhinoceros Beetle: Philippe Garcelon Scorpions: Jack Zalium Silkworms: Joel Abroad Stag Beetle: Rinaldo R Stick Insect: Blacktulip Stink Bug: Steve Begin Superworm: Brian Gratwicke Tarantulas: Istolethetv Termites: Patrick Randall Tiger Beetle:Jonathan Bliss Wasps: Nigel Marshall Water Boatman: Tom Heller Water Scorpion:Public.Resource.Org Waxworms: Rasbak Witchetty Grub: Nathan Johnson Woodlouse: Mark Robinson

All article references for this piece can be found here, courtesy of Yde Jongema, taxonomist from the Department of Entomology at Wageningen University.

Thanks also go to Daniella Martin from Girl Meets Bug for her edible insects list, which was referred to more than a few times! Her book, Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet, is well worth the read!

Edible Bug Farm Article

Potential opportunities for Woven members via the European Association of Agricultural Economists


The European Association of Agricultural Economists is holding its annual conference in Parma 28th August-1st September 2017. See www.eaae2017.it for more info.

EAAE “brings together agricultural economists and others interested in the problems of the agricultural and food industries and rural development in Europe” www.eaae.org. As LCA and economic analysis are a vital part of establishing insect production as a valid agricultural activity, member of Woven, Meredith Lloyd-Evans, has offered the organisers the possibility of a pre-conference symposium on insects and insect-farming for food and feed products. This has been accepted.

The Symposium will be a half-day on 29th or 28th August, and lunch is included. The aim is to have a focus on the interlinkages between insects for food and feed and agricultural economics, life-cycle analyses and ecological footprint, so that the EAAE and insect communities can profitably interact.

Meredith would like Woven members to have first chance to offer a presentation, so he can gauge viability of the symposium and start constructing a programme – if enough Woven members, from researchers to companies, get involved, he’s also happy to promote the session as a Woven symposium.

Please email mlloydevans@biobridge.co.uk, text/call 0776 776 6339 or call 01223 566850 to make an expression of interest and suggest a topic.

It would also be good if interested individuals could offer presentations in the main conference, to reinforce the topic – see http://www.eaae2017.it/call-for-contributions/

Waste Workshops


On 1-2 November I attended two related workshops that I thought might open up new opportunities for Woven members.  The focus of these was on biomass waste and the barriers to innovative ideas being taken forward to create new forms of protein for human consumption.

They were organised by WRAP – the waste specialists, in their capacity as leaders of the Courtauld 2025 initiative (aiming to reduce food waste by 20% by 2025) – and Forum for the Future, who are leading a major project called The Protein Challenge.

The Courtauld Commitment is a voluntary agreement aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing waste within the UK grocery sector. The agreement is funded by Westminster, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments and delivered by WRAP. It supports the UK governments’ policy goal of a ‘zero waste economy’ and climate change objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. WRAP is responsible for the agreement and works in partnership with leading retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and suppliers who sign up and support the delivery of the targets. It was launched in 2005 and is now in its third phase.



Amongst a lot of discussions where I ensured the opportunities and barriers facing the insect for food/feed community are seeing, one of the actions we agreed was to explore the establishment in the UK of a properly resourced hub/centre that can help innovators working with protein alternatives to get products to market by identifying and addressing barriers, enabling initiatives to be taken forward that could benefit a group of businesses by supporting collective action, facilitating access to specialist resources around the UK. This could include a physical focus that would bring together a set of key assets and start to build an innovation hotspot focused on alternative protein. I would aim to be part of the development of this and ensure it focuses on developing a more substantial set of resources and support for Woven members!

This will require me to dig out all that you have collectively told me about the barriers you face but I would be particularly keen to hear from members about specialist equipment or other resources that would make a big difference to you.

If you are interested and want to offer suggestions contact me at nick.rousseau@woven-network.co.uk

Representing Edible Insects in Parliament


As part of Nottingham Day in Parliament on 25 October, a team from Woven Network travelled to Westminster to represent and promote edible insects in the Houses of Parliament.

Woven Managing Director Nick Rousseau (Unconventional Connections) and Woven members Tony Askins (Next Step Foods) and Ross Bell (Kric8) were on hand to promote members’ products and the exciting potential of our growing UK-based edible insect industry.


Speaking to a representative of the Food Standards Agency, Tony received the impression that Brexit has “the potential to facilitate a smoother progression through the novel food process”, as any decisions and requirements of the FSA will presumably not have to be ratified by other EU members or the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

He was also informed that the Conservative government “could be good for the industry, as they are pro-entrepreneurship and less keen on regulations that might get in the way of business”.


Nick Rousseau had this to say:

We turned up at the “Green Room” which was on the other side of the square opposite the Houses of Parliament and set out our stall.  It was very impressive and the largest selection of insect-based food products I had certainly ever seen – possibly the largest in the UK.  We had everything from whole insects, flour, insect flavoured snacks, bars (with pieces to taste), pasta and pasta sauce as well as the Eat Grub recipe book and various bits of literature.

We all went over for the talk and discussion about the future of food in one of the rooms in Parliament, giving us a chance to see what it is like on the inside.  Very grand!  As a result of my lobbying, one of the University lecturers talked about insects and the potential role they could play, which I was able to pick up on along with a number of others in the Q&A.  Certainly some interest and I emphasised that there are plenty of successful products already on the market.

I had two conversations following the talk with the Chair of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (levy organisation) and Sat Bains the chef – who agreed to talk to me later about experimenting with insects in his restaurant.


Comments from the day’s feedback form included:

Coffee and Vanilla, Dark Chocolate – both tasted okay, but in my mind I can’t get over the yuck factor, sorry!

Kric8 – dry roasted crickets. Tastier than I expected!  I like the texture!

Crunchy insects are great especially crickets –delicious!

Very tasty – liked the honey and mustard – get them in the high Street!

If only more people had an opportunity to try these innovative products – Excellent.  Why not book a stall at Sutton Bonnington Farmers Market at UoN SB Campus?

Woven Network plan to be involved with similar events in the future, and will be promoting insects as food and feed at Food Matters Live 22-24 November.


Interested in joining Woven Network? Click here for full details of our membership packages.

And if you’re interested in trying some tasty insect snacks, visit our Marketplace to order your roasted crickets, energy bars, protein powders and more!

Welcome to the Woven Forum



The Woven Forum is now open to all Full Members. Structured with accessibility in mind, it will hopefully now be simple enough to follow and engage with the topics of interest. Members should now all receive an email with a link whenever a new topic is started. To receive further email notifications on that topic, it is up to the individual to click on “Subscribe”.

There are four forums:

  1. The Business Forum, where members can post questions and/or useful information relating to business development within the IFF sector. There is also a Vacancies & Opportunites sub-forum here that will function for companies to advertise any job or internship vacancies, but also for those that may be interested in working with an established company to introduce themselves and their interests, etc.
  2. The Research Forum is where members can share with the community any research articles that may be of interest, but also discuss anything related to the academic spectrum of the IFF sector. New research articles can be posted here (a simple link will be sufficient) and the full text will then be added to the appropriate section(s) in our Research Repository.
  3. The General Forum for all other enquiries and discussions not directly related to business or research, ranging from tips on domestic insect farming to event notifications.
  4. The New Members’ Forum is for anyone wishing to introduce themselves to the community and make their presence known.

Woven has had a lot of requests for assistance via email and whilst we are more than happy to help where we can, it may be much more useful for members to open up their questions to the wider Woven community through these forums.

Similarly, Full Members also have access to the Members Directory, where they can search through not just other Full Members, but well over a hundred registered members, based on the service each individual or company has to offer. All members are encouraged to make use of this service by first updating their profiles with this kind of information (using dropdown boxes under “Community Needs”) so that other members can find them more easily. An internal messaging system is in place for Full Members to assist members in making introductions.

If you have any difficulties logging in to your account, please don’t hesitate to contact our website guru Matt Anderson.

Why spend your time on International Collaboration?

International Collaboration - Featured Image

I have just come back from an Agritech Catalyst Consortium building event in London.  Innovate UK with DFID are offering substantial funding for collaborative R&D projects focused on developing solutions to agriculture-related challenges in developing countries.

 While in London I also met a young man from Burkina Faso who has established a business making and selling insect snacks and powder there based on an indigenous caterpillar. I highlighted the need to move to a farming model to avoid damaging the ecosystem through intensive over-harvesting.  He is looking for routes to bring products to the European market through a partnership with a company that is interested in developing something that incorporates the unique flavours of his insects.

 I have also been exploring collaboration interest and opportunities in the insect protein area around the world and found a great many!  For instance:

 –       In Chile, there is the second largest aquaculture industry globally and an urgent need to find alternative sources of feed for the fish

–       In two large countries, there are large challenges with biomass accumulation combined with massive pig and poultry industries that could be ideal for farming insects for these sectors

–       I have heard from/met farmers in Philipines, Malaysia and Zambia who are interested in exploring moving into insect farming

–       China and the UK have an extensive and growing programme of collaboration focused on agritech and I am actively uncovering a range of agritech specialists interested in insect farming there

 But why should we collaborate with these?  Surely they will simply compete with what the UK can produce?

 I believe that international collaboration can bring real value to UK and other European organisations working on the insects for food and feed area.

 For a start, I know quite a number of you are frustrated with the challenges you have found locally and in the UK generally with the legislation, lack of understanding and difficulty securing finance.    This has been a reality for some time and is why three brits left the UK –  Nick Piggott went to Vietnam, David Drew set up Agriprotein in South Africa, and Daniel Imrie-Situnayake went to the States to form Tiny Farms.   

 Very often the conditions can be more conducive overseas – as a result of the finance being available to support developing countries, a more flexible regulatory environment and lower labour and other costs.  Also, most developing countries have hotter climates which are inherently more conducive to insect farming.  They are in great need of innovation to reduce cost, increase consistency and quality and generally bring to the point where the insect materials are available at a price that makes them compete with alternatives.

 Further, we need the insect protein industry to grow, globally, if we are to attract the serious attention of investors, Government, research community.  While it remains a tiny sub-sector within agriculture and the food industry it will be harder to get it taken seriously and to secure investment or a conducive regulatory environment.  While the supplies of insect materials are heavily constrained it will be a major challenge to get insect products accepted into mainstream supermarkets.  While the costs of insect protein remain very tight, it will be harder to get consumers to accept it.

 Finally, collaboration brings opportunities to develop new skills and ideas. To find solutions that could have broad value and applicability. For those interested in growing a business based on enabling technology and new product development, working with overseas partners can open up new avenues and markets as much as new raw ingredients and issues to work with.

 I am very aware that international collaboration is complex and challenging but there is a lot of experience to draw on and a growing body of understanding of the factors that lead to successful collaborations that bring real value for all partners.

 If you want to know more and to discuss the opportunities and ideas I have uncovered do get in touch.

 Good luck


Nick Rousseau

Woven Network/Unconventional Connections (nick@nprousseau.co.uk)

European Regulations and the Brexit effect

Brexit - Featured Image
It will not have escaped your attention that last week was a somewhat momentous one with a vote to leave the EU.  This has left many of us reeling, including, I suspect, many who were on the Leave campaign.  There are many questions that will take some time to resolve, both in terms of what exactly our relationship with Europe is, going forward, and what the UK policy is on matters that were, until we leave/left resolved at European level.
I was at DEFRA on Monday for an event discussing the state of UK agriculture and it was starting to become clear that a great deal of UK agricultural policy is heavily shaped by the Common Agricultural Policy and officials at DEFRA will be working flat out to create a UK Agricultural policy, or even as one said, an English AP/Scottish AP…
I’m afraid that this means one thing for sure – a long period of uncertainty.  Never good for business.  It also could mean that the EU research funding programmes will not be open to UK scientists either.

Woven’s Role

What we can offer at Woven, however, is that we will keep as close as we can to  the FSA so that we know how things emerge as the new arrangements become clearer.  Sadly, from my knowledge of how Govt works there will be very little concrete decided until we have a new PM and senior team but officials will be working on a number of scenarios so that they can put up concrete proposals to Minsters for their decision/endorsement a soon as Ministers are in place.