Interview with Nicolas Bery, founder of Bery Consulting
Tell us how you got involved in the edible insects world
This adventure started in 2013 when during my holidays in France I was at a dinner, and a friend of mine told me that he heard some students in Malaysia were experimenting on edible insects for food. I had tried insects in Thailand already but never got interested in the nutritional properties and the sustainable aspect.
The same night I looked up for information and found the the report “Six legged livestock: edible insect farming, collecting and marketing in Thailand”. Read that the same night and sent an email to Dr Yupa Hanboonsong for a meeting. I was back in Thailand a couple of weeks later, met her and decided to start a business a few months later.
What are exactly your activities as consultant for the edible insects industry?
I have been running a company in Chiang Mai for 3 years, breeding, processing and exporting cricket powder and dried crickets. I have been involved in every step of the business. I decided to leave the company for personal reasons and to start offering consulting as I had multiple demand for the past few months.
I can offer assistance on starting a farming project or simply providing information or contacts in the industry. I also sell a very good quality cricket powder.
Is the edible insects market growing fast enough in South East Asia to satisfy soon the “need for profits” of the companies?
The market in South East Asia is different than Western countries. North America and Europe are in demand of insect powder, but in Thailand, Korea, Cambodia, Laos, people eat the insects whole with very little processing (fried mostly). Some companies start to develop some products made with insect powder but the demand is not really there yet. The population is used to the whole insect as a traditional food.
I focus mainly on working with North American or European companies. Those markets grow faster than South East Asia in the insect powder products.
It seems that a growing number of western companies are searching for suppliers in that area. Is this idea fitting the reality?
When we started to market our product in 2014, I remember having a lot of replies saying “we prefer to source our insect in our own country or area because we want to reassure our clients about the quality”. I have been always amused by this type or response because Thailand has been breeding insects for human consumption for decades, while US and European were just starting. So for me the quality and experience always came from Thailand more than any western countries. Anyway, this time has passed, and now we have a majority of the companies looking to source their supply in South East Asia because they can have a quality product for a much lower price.
Do you think that mechanization could lower the farming costs for western companies so that they could be competitive with the South East Asia ones?
I think this is already happening with a few companies around the world.
Automation will definitely lower costs of production but this will happen for companies in South East Asia as well. I am working on a R&D project to increase automation and mechanization at the moment. I also know some investors are investing in edible insects projects in South East Asia. So I think being based around here will always be an advantage in terms of costs compare to western countries.
What’s your forecast about the development of entomophagy around the world?
I think the consumer acceptance which is the first barrier in our industry, will take some time to change. I see the edible insect market as being significant in our everyday consumption within 7 to 10 years. Insects not as a replacement of meat or other source of animal protein, but as an alternative source. I think people are getting aware of the urge of changing our food habits and to lower meat consumption. Lowering the price of the insect products will help a lot our cause as well.