Woven Newsletter No.2 – November 2015

Woven Newsletter - Featured Image

Woven Network is set up to directly benefit, through a set of membership services, entrepreneurs and researchers working in the role of insects in the human food chain. Indirectly, through supporting its members, the company will also benefit the wider public across the Globe that need sustainable, alternative sources of protein.

The company will aim to achieve the following for the UK:

  • To create a voice on behalf of the ‘insects for food and feed’ UK community to speak to the public, UK Government, UK Govt agencies and EU bodies.
  • To demonstrate the scale of the emerging sector and enable collective action to reflect this.
  • To turn individual actors into a powerful community that can become a viable sector with strong supply chain relationships and international connections / market access.
  • To attract more entrepreneurs and businesses into the UK and into the sector by demonstrating the opportunity and making the UK a strong location from which to operate.

Please send us a message with your contributions for the next newsletter and mark it as “Woven Newsletter”.

We look forward to your contributions.

— Peter Smithers (Editor)

News from the Directors

Things are really starting to move at the European level and I hope you have read my recent blogs on our website about the European Parliament decision about Novel Foods and the EFSA Opinion on the relative safety of insects compared with other alternative sources of protein. I aim to get back to these to provide a more detailed commentary for our members.

Also, ProteINSECT are making significant progress as this press release shows. I hope you caught the Countryfile episode! There is no doubt that the media are getting interested in this and there is an opportunity to start to send out a range of messages that can shift public opinion towards seeing insects as a more mainstream contribution to our food chain. I have a BBC journalist who has been taking an interest and is coming across the complexity of the regulatory position. You may have seen his post about the new insect restaurant in Pembrokeshire – again, I am blogging about that.

Food Matters Live had four stands from insect-related businesses, as well as Bingham & Jones giving a presentation on their developments, which is another measure of progress, and they all attracted a lot of interest.

This weekend (December 5th/6th) there will be a workshop on the research that is needed to support the industry, organised by Charlotte Payne, which will build on the recent workshop led by Emma Rivers of the Global Food Security Programme. In parallel I am exploring how we can do more within the industry space to create the conditions for success – more shortly.

Behind the scenes Woven continues to take shape. We have formed a Community Interest Company (not for profit) – Woven Network CIC – and our website is growing. We plan to write out to you all in the near future about our formal launch and membership details. We are currently hampered by a lack of start up finance and will be offering what we hope will be an attractive opportunity to become a Founder Member of Woven in exchange for helping us with our cashflow situation, and some other benefits.

We are being approached by the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) in Brussels to represent the UK which will further help ensure the voice of the UK gets listened to.

I hope you will want to contribute to making our network a success for everyone’s benefit.

— Nick Rousseau and the Woven Network Directors and Management Committee

Nick Rousseau

Company Spotlight: Entocube, Sweden

EntoCube is a mobile shipping container that can produce, cook and serve crickets.

See video at  http://www.entocube.com

At the moment (November 2015), Sweden’s Food & Health authority “Livsmedelsverket” has banned selling insects as food, and the few startups we have had have been temporarily shut down awaiting new regulations from the EU.

Entocube

— Anders Engstrom

News Spotlight: Survey Results Reported by BBC Reinforce Consumer Trend towards Demand for Knowledge on Insect Protein

75% of people questioned would be comfortable eating farmed animals fed on insect meal.

Exclusive research & findings from EC-funded PROteINSECT project was featured on BBC Countryfile last Sunday (29th November 2015, 6.20pm, BBC One)

Results from the latest consumer perception survey on current and potential sources of protein for animal feed was revealed last week on BBC Countryfile, one of the top five most popular shows on UK TV, attracting regular audiences of up to seven million viewers.

In an episode to broadcast at 6.20pm on BBC One last Sunday (29th November), the flagship rural affairs programme reported that 75% of people questioned would be comfortable eating farmed animals fed on insects, whilst three quarters believe there is a low risk to human health associated with insect protein for animal feed.

The Europe-wide, multi-lingual consumer perception survey received more than 1,100 responses and was conducted by the EC-funded PROteINSECT project, which is investigating the potential of insect protein for animal feed in the diets of chicken, pigs and fish.

Full analysis of the survey across all languages will follow the Countryfile broadcast. But early results from English-speaking respondents demonstrated that 91% feel they should have basic knowledge about the content of animal feed. Close to 60% said that when buying meat or fish, their choices are affected by what the animal itself has been fed.

In addition to gaining first sight of the survey results, Countryfile was granted exclusive access to the first European insect-protein feeding trials with pigs, conducted by PROteINSECT in Belgium. Presenter Tom Heap travelled to Ghent in early November to interview expert researchers and speak with local farmers managing the trials about the benefits of an insect-based diet for their livestock.

The BBC investigation is particularly timely, coming on the heels of the Scientific Opinion on the ‘risk profile’ of insect protein for feed and food, which was published in October 2015 by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and highlighted the need for more robust data. With a research mandate covering production, processing, safety, quality and consumer perception, PROteINSECT is ideally placed to answer many of the remaining questions posed by legislators, industry and the public around insect protein for animal feed.

“Our reliance in Europe on imported sources of protein for farmed animals and fish is a recognised issue,” says Dr Elaine Fitches, PROteINSECT project co-ordinator from Fera Science Ltd (Food & Environment Research Agency, UK).  “Being featured on such a popular programme is a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of our research and demonstrate the robust evidence base being developed by our international experts.”

“The survey results suggest there is consumer demand for more knowledge around current and potential protein sources for animal feed.  This valuable exposure will help increase public awareness around the overall potential of insects to positively impact the future of farming in Europe and help address the challenge of our global food security.”

Insect Events

December 2015

Insects as Food and Feed: A UK-based Academic Workshop, 4th Dec., Oxford University:
http://www.libertyruth.com/iff-workshop-uk-2015.html

  • The GB Sasakawa Foundation and BioBridge have both provided funding for this event, which will include 8 oral presentations and 10 posters, spanning four areas of research: Health, growth and nutrition; Sustainability and environmental impact; Psychology, well-being and marketing; Welfare, ethics and legislation.
  • Presenters will come from across Europe, and represent a broad range of academic disciplines and institutions. The event will conclude with a panel discussion on future priorities in research on edible insects, followed by closing remarks from Kenichi Nonaka, a Japan-based researcher who has studied insect eating traditions worldwide for nearly 30 years.
  • The day will also include a live demonstration of 3D printing using insect paste, and a selection of insect-based foods made by a local, Oxford-based catering team. We will follow up with a collaborative paper discussing the issues raised during the day and informed by the panel discussion. Attendance is free of charge, and we hope to see attendees from a broad range of academic disciplines.

April 2016

Joint Meeting of Woven, Royal Entomological Society and University of Nottingham, Insects as Food and Feed: The Way Forward, 11th April 2016, University of Nottingham:
https://woven-network.co.uk/event/woven-network-launch-insects-as-food-and-feed-the-way-forward/

  • In light of the changing FSA regulations this meeting will serve as a platform to identify key barriers to moving forward and to establish at which stages research in the key barrier areas is.
  • Participants will be sought to present research and ideas on solutions to barriers and ways forward to current challenges.
  • Contributions will be invited from those working across diverse areas of: social and natural sciences, commercials organisations and legal/policy-oriented roles. Follow the link above for more information.

Image Credits: Nick Rousseau, Entocube

Edible insects growing presence at Food Matters Live

Food Matters Live - Featured Image

I was very pleased to see that four businesses had a stand at last week’s Food Matters Live conference and exhibition and there was a presentation on new product development involving insects by Bingham and Jones.  Given that it was at last year’s FML where we had our very first gathering of those interested in this (when I think only one business had a stand – Grub) this is becoming a measure of progress and an opportunity to take stock.

I had an interesting talk with a guy promoting a range of oriental sauces plus some noodles made of charcoal which apparently are very good for you.   It struck me that selling food products as that contain insect material as part of a wider range of interesting foods is probably a good strategy, not least in order to maximise your success as a business because of the uncertainties over regulations in this area, going forward.  Also, will help to convey the message that insect-based products are just part of a range of new things to try.

The businesses with stands were:

Shami and Neil of Grub
Shami and Neil of Grub
Bingham & Jones demonstrating their products
Bingham & Jones demonstrating their products
Christine Spliid and colleague of Crowbar
Christine Spliid and colleague of Crowbar
Jonny Bingham of Bingham & Jones
Jonny Bingham of Bingham & Jones
Eli Cadesky of C-fu Foods Inc.
Eli Cadesky of C-fu Foods Inc.

Image Credits: Nick Rousseau

Encouraging Malawians to eat insects

Farming in Malawi - Featured Image

I was at an event recently organised by the Overseas Development Institute and was telling someone about Woven, when she told me the story of her mother, Annabel Shaxson, who lived in Malawi in the Seventies.  At that time, much as now, Malawians were starting to see the Western lifestyle as something to aspire to, including eating Western style food. Annabel was concerned that they were going to loose the value of their heritage and local food sources so she and some friends wrote a cookbook that offered a range of recipes but included a chapter on Insects – emphasising throughout that Westerners would love these.

Eg.

Opening with “It is not generally known in the Western world that insects are a very good and cheap source of protein.  Taxonomically, these insects are not far removed from shrimps which are considered a great delicacy in the West.”

Ana a Njuchi (Bee larvae) – Method: Remove the nests from the tree and boil them.  Take out the larvae from the comb and dry them.  Fry with a little salt, and dry again if desired. Serve as a relish or as an appetiser.

Dziwala (grasshoppers) – These large grasshoppers are mostly found in the late dry season though a few are seen throughout the year.  Method: Remove the wings and the horned part of the legs.  Boil them in water for 5 minutes and then dry in the sun.  Winnow off any remaining wings, and fry in a pan with a little salt.  They may also be fried with a little fat.  Serve as a relish.  If frying with fat, a little chopped onion, chopped tomato and/or groundnut flour may be added to the pan.

I believe this book may still be available for sale in good Malawian bookshops!

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

European Food Safety Authority Opinion

EFSA - Featured Image

The EFSA published its Opinion on the relative safety of insects for food and feed, compared with other sources of protein on 8 October.

You can read the report here:

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/151008a

This sets out both what is known about the extensive consumption of insects but also all the areas where not enough is known.  It should be a useful reference point for those looking to work up research proposals but also needs to be considered carefully by the industry to look for ways to minimise risks while still offering high quality products.

Those developing insect farming technologies will also find this very useful.

Nick

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report recommends insects to become part of our diets

WRAP Report - Featured Image

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is an organisation that focuses its efforts on moving the world towards more sustainable use of resources.  As such it pays particular attention to waste and how waste can be reduced/turned into value.

WRAP have just issued a report on the future of food and include recommendations that insects should become a staple part of people’s diets because of the opportunity that gives to make better use of waste.

Read the report here:

http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/food-futures

Read an article in the Guardian about this here:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/05/eating-insects-should-part-sustainable-diet-future-report

Woven will explore how to link with WRAP in this area as insect farming will require the development of sustainable sources of suitable insect feeding material and this can be a challenge given the variations in the value that waste streams can attract as a result of factors outside of our control.

Nick

Image Credits: WRAP

Review of research requirements for insects for livestock feed

Global Food Security Programme - Featured Image

The Global Food Security Programme ran a workshop recently looking into the research that needs to be done to enable insects for livestock feed to become accepted.

They have now published their report which can be found at:

http://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/news-events/news/2015/151023-n-report-insects-to-feed-livestock.html

This should help ensure that the research funding councils will respond positively to project proposals – but do let us know if they dont.  There is a forum topic on this to discuss the whole area.

Nick

Image Credits: Global Food Security Programme

European Novel Foods Regulations now recognise edible insects!

European Parliament - Featured Image

The European Parliament agreed a new set of Novel Food Regulations on 28 October which recognise that edible insects can be included – whether whole or only part of them.

This will require companies selling products that include insect material to comply with requirements to demonstrate their safety but companies already trading have some time to work up the necessary evidence.

Here is the full text of what was agreed.

It is not an easy ready so here is a link to an article that sets out the implications:

http://foodhealthlegal.com/?cat=17

Woven will be keeping in touch with these developments and providing more info as things become clearer. Also, you can join the Forum to take part in discussions on the implications of all this and help us understand your position.

Nick

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Woven Newsletter No.1 – October 2015

Woven Newsletter - Featured Image

Welcome to the first Woven Newsletter. We hope that this will grow into a publication that will allow members of the group to exchange ideas and keep each other informed of developments as they happen in this rapidly expanding field. If you have news, either relating to the wider field of insects as food or feed or details of a project that you are running, please write a paragraph or a longer article for this newsletter.

Please send us a message about future contributions, marking it as “Woven Newsletter”.

We look forward to your contributions.

Peter Smithers (Editor)

Notes on the Situation in Brussels following a discussion with Rhonda at Minerva

The European Commission has asked for an assessment of the relative safety of insects as food and feed compared with other alternative sources of protein. This is quite a specific question and begs lots of other questions.

The report on this should be delivered by mid-September and may well not give a definitive advice as there are clearly lots of research questions still to answer.

The EC will then need more time, probably until early 2016 before it decides what to do and then it will take time to introduce any new legislation, etc.

During that period European Member States will be able to express their opinion on what EC should do, so we could seek to persuade the UK Government to take a position. This will have some influence over the EC.

— Nick Rousseau

News from the FSA

Currently Entomophagy (insect eating), is in on the increase as is indeed being seen an alternative food source of protein. To date there have been no insect-based products that have been considered before the committee. Currently, whole animals including insects do not fall within the scope of the Novel Foods Regulation whilst the consumption of parts of insects do fall under it. This is due to the current wording of the text of the regulation which captures products isolated from animals but not whole animals themselves. By whole, we would interpret this to mean the intact animal or insect with no parts removed, not even wings or legs, etc. The whole animal can also be ground up or milled into flour and this would also not be classed as novel. Products isolated from whole animals, for example proteins or other extracts would be classed as novel. If parts of insects were to be marketed in the EU, for example insects with wings or legs removed, we would regard these as novel foods and unless evidence of a significant history of its consumption in Europe was provided to us, authorisation would be required under the Novel Foods Regulation (EC) 258/97.

This situation is due to change with future amendments to the Regulation. A proposition is in the works at the FSA which would allow for quicker approval of novels EU foods with a significant traditional history of consumption in other countries. This proposed regulation will be highly beneficial to insect eating in the UK as there is a strong history of consumption in other parts of the world such as Asia and Africa. The FSA has predicted that this new “Third Country” approval process may be in place later this year or early next year, with a two year transition period.

As provisions of this new approval process as still being finalised there is no clear information on what will be required with regards to data under this process.

Woven is in active contact with the FSA about this issue in an effort to present a strong combined front for the key entomophagy players in the UK. We are waiting for clarification from the FSA on two key points 1) Ultimately which data will be required for this new approval process 2) If within the two year transition period businesses will still be allowed to market insect products.

We also at this time request that you do not individually contact FSA, but rather we want to show them that we are a united group of entrepreneurs and researchers working together. If you have any questions regarding the FSA contact please get in touch.

Insect Events

October 2015

Future of Food Production Workshop, 21st Oct, IDEALondon:https://www.re-work.co/workshops/foodprod-2015

  • Workshop to bring together scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs to explore how advancing technology will impact the future of the food industry. Topics include: Precision Agriculture, Climates-smart Farming, Crop & Livestock Future, Internet of Farm Things, Urban Farming.

World Edible Insect Day (WEID), 23rd Oct: 
https://www.facebook.com/world.edible.insect.day.23Oct

WEID Logo

Can you organise an event to raise the profile of edible insects on the first ever World Edible Insect Day? Follow the link above to see what other people are doing across the world.

December 2015

Insects as Food and Feed: A UK-based Academic Workshop, 4th Dec., Oxford University:
http://www.libertyruth.com/iff-workshop-uk-2015.html

  • The GB Sasakawa Foundation has provided funding for this event, which will include 8 oral presentations and 10 posters, spanning four areas of research: Health, growth and nutrition; Sustainability and environmental impact; Psychology, well-being and marketing; Welfare, ethics and legislation.
  • Presenters will come from across Europe, and represent a broad range of academic disciplines and institutions. The event will conclude with a panel discussion on future priorities in research on edible insects, followed by closing remarks from Kenichi Nonaka, a Japan-based researcher who has studied insect eating traditions worldwide for nearly 30 years.
  • The day will also include a live demonstration of 3D printing using insect paste, and a selection of insect-based foods made by a local, Oxford-based catering team. We will follow up with a collaborative paper discussing the issues raised during the day and informed by the panel discussion. Attendance is free of charge, and we hope to see attendees from a broad range of academic disciplines.

April 2016

Joint Meeting of Woven, Royal Entomological Society and University of Nottingham, Insects as Food and Feed: The Way Forward, 11th April 2016, University of Nottingham:
https://woven-network.co.uk/event/woven-network-launch-insects-as-food-and-feed-the-way-forward/

  • In light of the changing FSA regulations this meeting will serve as a platform to identify key barriers to moving forward and to establish at which stages research in the key barrier areas is.
  • Participants will be sought to present research and ideas on solutions to barriers and ways forward to current challenges.
  • Contributions will be invited from those working across diverse areas of: social and natural sciences, commercials organisations and legal/policy-oriented roles. Follow the link above for more information.

Insect Research

Edible Insects and the Future of Food

This document reports on the findings of a small project in which the tools of Foresight were used to think about the potential of edible insects to contribute to global food security in a future global food system. It is available as a free download at http://www.ids.ac.uk/publication/edible-insects-and-the-future-of-food-a-foresight-scenario-exercise-on-entomophagy-and-global-food-security

For more information contact Dr. Dominic Glover | Research Fellow | Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex

Edible Insects and the Future of Food: A Foresight Scenario Exercise on Entomophagy and Global Food Security

Questions and Correspondence

Louise Rezler has a short questionnaire she always uses when testing new products and would be interested to work with others to develop a common instrument that everyone could use so that we can collate data from across the UK and for different products. If you are interested in taking part (including if you have survey expertise) can you contact us and we will arrange a discussion/meeting with Louise to agree how to take this forward.

Hot Buzz

Image Credits: WEID, IDS, Hot Buzz

Welcome to Woven!

Woven Logo - Featured Image

Just to kick off the blogging here.  Woven is coming together at a very significant time for the European insects for food and feed industry with the European Commission finally taking this new sector seriously and developing its thinking on the regulations to put in place.  We want Woven to become a force for effective change to make the UK and beyond places that those in the industry can operate with clear standards and a growing acceptance by customers – and where those interested in research in this fascinating area can get support and tap into the real world challenges entomophagy throws up.

So watch this space!

Nick