If you’re interested in the insects as feed and food industry, you must be aware that from the 15 to 18 of May 2018 was held the 2nd world’s conference on edible insects.
The conference “Insects to feed the world 2” took place in Wuhan, China. It was the continuation of the conference which took place in 2014 in Wageningen in the Netherlands. This conference Insects to feed the world in 2014 introduced by the FAO report was for many ento-preneurs the spark that they needed to start their journey.
As many of us expected a lot from this second episode, did « Insects to feed the world 2 » kept its promises?
Experts from all around the world speaking about entomophagy and edible insects
The goal of the conference was easy to grab: assess the development of the edible insects’ industry to answer today’s and tomorrow’s global food issue.
The organisation and management of an event of this magnitude required a skilled local and global team. During the introduction, we were cheerfully welcomed and thrilled by the local organising committee from Huazhong Agricultural University and the international advisory board led by Arnold Van Huis from Wageningen University and Jeffery Tomberlin from Texas University.
The conference brought together 278 people from 40 countries eager to learn more about the exciting topic of insects as food and feed
For 4 days, there were more than 120 presentations and posters from speakers coming both from research and industry background.
It was interesting to see that edible insects represent a multitude of local solutions that could help to shape a more sustainable food industry in the years to come.
Many topics were discussed: ethno-entomology with Julie Lesnik talking about the link between women and edible insects, Daniel Ambuhl about the domestication of African caterpillars, insect farming with Nicolas Bery presenting his « Cricket lab » in Thailand and Andreas Baumann from Büler technology assessing the safety aspect of insect farming. Different food production systems involving insects were presented such as the InVALUABLE project in Denmark led by Lars Heckmann. Nutritional aspects of edible insects were deeply explained by Charlotte Payne and Dennis Oonincx.
I was honoured to present some marketing and economics aspects of the edible insects’ industry in a session chaired by Gabe Mott, COO of Aspire, who tackled the cost of automation in insect farming.
Among all the presentations and topics discussed, one insect got some particular attention: The Hermetia illucens more commonly known as the black soldier fly.
A black soldier fly conference
As mentioned by Jeffery Tomberlin, world’s expert on black soldier fly, during the conclusion: We could nearly say that this conference was a black soldier fly conference.
In fact, 40% of the presentations and posters were about this promising insect used as a protein source in the feed industry.
The particularity of this insect is its high capacity for processing food waste. This fly is already farmed at industrial scale in various locations around the world. The technology for breeding, processing these insects are continuously getting improved along as its genetics is getting better understood.
Considering that food waste is a significant issue not only in China but in all countries, we can expect a bright future for the black soldier fly industry.
Growing together as an industry and moving forward
One of the key moment of the conference was the first roundtable involving the different associations from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The discussion about the joined actions between the associations showed a clear intent to grow the insect as food and feed industry together.
For me, this conference kept all of its promises and even more. I was thrilled to be surrounded by driven people working to build and shape a new industry sustainably.
I have to admit that it was quite disappointing to find so many insects dishes on Powerpoint slides and posters during presentations but none in our plates during the buffet. Hopefully, Charlotte Payne shared with me some homemade giant hornet liquor she prepared in Japan.
Moving forward “Insects to feed the world 3” is planned for 2020, and 4 cities have been proposed : Austin, US, Montreal, CA, Mexico, MX, Cape Town, SA.
Wherever and whenever it will be, I’m hopefully looking forward to meeting you there.
Florian Nock – Jimini’s