This is the opinion of Vietnam-based insect protein firm FlyFeed’s Founder and CEO Arseniy Olkhovskiy, who believes that food and beverage manufacturers can address consumer demands for high-quality protein with their pricing priorities by using insect protein.
“The biggest advantage that insect proteins have to become part of the food supply chain is the ability for this to be produced at super cheap costs,” he told FoodNavigator-Asia during the most recent episode of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast.
“[The potential is there] to produce products from insects which have almost the same taste as conventional [proteins], with better nutritional quality, and at the same time at three to four times cheaper than chicken, for example.
“There is such a wide range of potential products, for example insect protein flour can be used for producing alternative meat products, bread products, protein bars – there is a huge variety of products that can be made healthier and cheaper.
“So we believe that the biggest obstacle the industry needs to overcome right now is the scaling-up issue - Basically, making insect farming facilities big enough to offer the market or cheap insect foods.”
Olkhovskiy stressed that companies in this space need to take care not to overestimate the maturity of the insect-based foods industry in APAC when it comes to foods for human consumption.
“We have seen a lot of companies launching human insect-based food brands that are operating on a misconception,” he said.
“They tend to have this misleading impression that Asia as a region with a long history of insect consumption for health or nutritional reasons [means that] simply bringing in an insect food brand to here will automatically lead to consumer acceptance.
“History has shown this is not true – There have been many brands which have tried this in Asia, and it has almost never worked as well as expected, which comes back down to identifying the main reason that insects are a valuable product for human consumption, and this reason is indeed affordability and cost.”
Based on this reasoning as well as the local lifestyles and cultures even in markets with a long history of entomophagy, simply changing the product format but tagging on a heftier price tag is unlikely to work in this part of the world.
“In the more conservative parts of Thailand or Vietnam where there are no issues with insect consumption, they would be more focused on product taste than the use of insects as a base ingredient when it comes to paying premiums for novel packaged insect-based products,” he said.
“But for consumers living in the big cities with a modern lifestyle, these are not big fans of insect products because it's not culturally accepted for them and they would still prefer beef over insects as a source of protein.
“So here, I would say the main step industry needs to make is to give insect products a much stronger value proposition than other alternatives - and again, the most significant way to do this is by making products that taste similar whilst making costs significantly cheaper.”
Listen to the podcast above to find out more.