A Dutch entrepreneur predicts that Europeans will eat an insect-based product at least once a week by 2030. He’s the co-founder of a company which is positioning itself to make this prediction a reality.
Sander Paltenburg, co-founder of De Krekerij, says they aim to be the biggest producers of insect-based food products in Europe. His company already sells nine different dishes from an online shop which he says is performing better than expected.
Paltenburg spoke to The Lens in light of a recent EU decision to approve insects for human consumption. While insects are eaten in most of the world’s nations, Europeans have been more reluctant about incorporating them into their diet.
Paltenburg says his company is experiencing rapid growth. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they had to pivot from their previous model which relied on catering and food establishments.
Scroll through the images above to see what De Krekerij has to offer.
On the 13th of January the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) declared that dried mealworms (worms which look like maggots) were safe for human consumption.
João Costa, a spokesperson for the EFSA, told The Lens that this first EFSA risk assessment of an insect as a novel food can pave the way for the first EU-wide approval. Costa said that in the coming months, EU member states will vote on an act to authorise the placing of the product on the market.
Costa explained that in some EU states such as the Netherlands and Germany insect foods are already being sold. He attributed this fragmentation to “national interpretation” of food regulations.
The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) welcomed the EFSA’s opinion.
Antoine Hubert, IPIFF President, said in a statement that the agency’s decision represents “an important milestone towards the wider EU commercialisation of edible insects.” The organisation that represents businesses in the insect production sector believes moves such as this one by the EU food regulator bring insect-based products closer to consumers around the union.
Paltenburg from De Krekerij also believes the EFSA’s decision is a good first step.
Researchers quoted by the EFSA say that the “yuck-factor” makes the thought of eating insects repellant to Europeans.
The Lens sought the opinion of Sonja Karambiri, a university student in Groningen, about whether or not she’s ready to eat insects. Karambiri, who had a bad experience with insects in the past, says she’s still willing to give them another shot.
She first tried insects aged 8 at a friend’s house.
“Her mum was making crickets. I was taken aback, but I decided to try it anyways,” says Sonja who didn’t want to seem rude. She doesn’t remember what they taste like but says it probably wasn’t bad as she ate them a number of times after that.
However, in 2014, she ate fried caterpillars in Burkina Faso (known locally as chitoumou) and got very sick. She gets flashbacks of that unfortunate day whenever she sees them or smells a similar smelling dish.
“This is very unfortunate because there are a lot of benefits to eating insects and they’re pretty good if they are well done,” says Sonja who has since all but ruled out trying insects again.
Now that you’ve read the article, test your general knowledge about insects as food in The Lens’s quiz: