Woven Newsletter No.2 – November 2015

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.


— 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:

  • 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:

  • 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

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