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Edible insects have been the focus of increasing interest as a promising source of sustainable and nutritious protein for feeding both humans and animals.

Cornwall hosts ‘future foods’ event to explore sustainable bug production

Experts and stakeholders will gather at the Penryn Campus on Thursday 12 December to explore the potential for producing insects for food and animal feed in Cornwall.

Given the challenges currently faced by the agricultural sector including population growth and a changing climate, edible insects have been the focus of increasing interest as a promising source of sustainable and nutritious protein for feeding both humans and animals.

This innovative form of food production also has tremendous untapped business potential, with the edible insect market predicted to grow rapidly in the next five-year period.

In order to explore the future of insect production in Cornwall, the University of Exeter is hosting an event at the Penryn Campus to bring together industry experts, researchers and stakeholders to build collaborative networks.

Key speakers at the event include Dr Olivia Champion, Founder and Director of the start-up Entec Nutrition, who will be speaking about her vision for the Cornwall based insect farm and some of the unique challenges they face.

Also speaking is Professor Rick Titball of Biosystems Technology, who will shed some light on managing disease in insect populations.

The idea of feeding food waste from industry to edible insects is an interesting concept, which will be discussed by Circular Economy expert Professor Stefano Pascucci of the University of Exeter.

Finally, Rachel O'Connor and Freya Lemon who have both developed practices in insect law with Michelmores law firm will provide valuable insight into the current legal status of edible insects.

The event will be attended by 37 delegates from a wide range of organisations across the Southwest.

Insect producers attending the event include the Devon based cricket producers Six Feet Farms and the start-up Tira Ecological Solutions who hopes to use Black Soldier Fly to decompose food waste into bio-fertiliser.

The presence of Dr Nick Rousseau, Managing Director of The Woven Network (the UK-based Network for Insects as Food & Feed) at the event will beneficial for the producers, if they are keen to connect with similar businesses from across the country.

The event has attracted interest from a wide range of businesses. From the managing directors of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant to St Ewe Eggs and West Country Trout, many businesses are interested in exploring the possibilities of local insect production and how they might incorporate insect products into their business models.

The event will also feature the chance to sample some insect-based snacks!

The event is organised by the Edible Insects Project, run by the University of Exeter in partnership with Agri-tech Cornwall and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Edible Insects Project is developing research expertise in insect production.

It is also engaging with local businesses such as Granite Rock Brewery and Tira Ecological Solutions to develop innovative and sustainable ways to recycle organic waste products and reduce food waste, through the production of edible insects for food, animal feed and fertiliser.

Professor David Hosken, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Exeter, said: "This circular economy network combined with our research expertise in insect nutritional geometry will have the potential to generate a whole new industry of novel food and feed within Cornwall.

"By creating collaborative networks, refining circular economic loops for insect farming and developing research expertise in farming inserts, we have been striving to ensure that Cornwall is at the centre of an industry currently in its infancy, but with the potential to contribute substantially to the UK economy."

Dr Devi Whittle, Impact & Partnership Development Officer, Agri-tech Cornwall, said: "This project has been a great opportunity for local businesses to be proactive in promoting circular economy principles and to be involved in developing innovative ways of reducing and re-using waste.

"The energy and enthusiasm of the businesses involved really demonstrate that Cornish businesses are keen to work together to face challenges and provide high impact solutions in the drive towards positive economic, social and environmental growth in Cornwall and the UK."

Date: 6 December 2019