Export outlook bright for edible insects
Market to be worth $9.6bn by 2030
Amid growing concerns worldwide about food security because of the serious impact caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, edible insects and protein sourced from insects are likely to see strong export potential in the world market, according to the Thai Food Processors Association.
Visit Limlurcha, the association's honorary president, said Thailand has the know-how at present in terms of raising edible insects while noting that insect raising takes a shorter period of time when compared with other sources of protein.
Thailand's most important insect export markets include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
In Thailand, there are over 20,000 traditional cricket farms, which are mainly located in the northeastern region with a total production capacity of more than 7,000 tonnes.
Thailand is currently the world's 17th largest exporter of live insects.
In the first five months of 2021, the export volume of live insects reached 575 tonnes, valued at US$85,346, up 29% compared with the same period of 2020. The figures for the whole year were not available.
Key export markets include the United States, accounting for 40.4% of all exports, followed by the United Arab Emirates (17.9%), Germany (16.9%), the United Kingdom (12.1%), the Netherlands (10.9%) and South Korea (1.35%).
According to the US market research firm, Meticulous Market Research Inc, the edible insect market is expected to reach $9.6 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.3% during the period 2022–2030. In terms of volume, the edible insect market is expected to reach 3.13 million tonnes by 2030, at a CAGR of 31.1% during the period 2022–2030. The growth of this market is driven by growing greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock and poultry industries, the high nutritional value of insects, the environmental benefits of edible insects, the rising demand for insect protein in the animal feed industry, and the low risk of transmitting zoonotic diseases via the consumption of edible insects.
However, the lack of a standardised regulatory framework, psychological and ethical barriers to consuming insects as food, and the risk of allergies due to insect consumption is expected to restrain the growth of this market. Emerging economies are expected to hold significant growth opportunities for the players operating in this market. However, a lack of awareness regarding the benefits of insect consumption is expected to remain a major challenge for the growth of this market, according to the research firm.
Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said the Thai Trade Center Office in Chicago reported that insect consumption in the US market is growing continuously and offers promise in terms of prospects.
Insects are an alternative protein used mainly in the food and beverage sector, including the pastry and candy industry, animal feed meal and pet food, he said.