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Why Are Edible Insects More Expensive? 5 Reasons

Updated: Jan 16


why are edible insects expensive cover

The limited scale of production, complex rearing techniques, feed requirements, regulatory hurdles, and limited distribution channels all contribute to the relatively expensive nature of edible insects.


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in incorporating edible insects into diets worldwide due to their potential as a sustainable protein source. However, one major obstacle that hinders their widespread adoption is the comparatively high cost associated with edible insects.


This article aims to explore the reasons behind the relatively steep prices of edible insects, drawing insights from various factors that contribute to their production, processing, and market dynamics.


5 reasons edible insects are expensive compared to other protein sources

silkworm pupae dish

1. Limited scale of production

The production of edible insects is still in its nascent stages, and the industry is relatively small compared to traditional livestock farming. Scaling up insect production to meet the demand requires significant investments in infrastructure, technology, and research.


The current production processes are often labour-intensive and require specialized facilities, which can drive up the costs involved.


2. Complex rearing techniques

The rearing of edible insects involves intricate techniques that ensure the quality, safety, and consistency of the final product. Insects are highly sensitive to their environment, requiring specific temperature, humidity, and feeding conditions.


These factors demand close monitoring, skilled labour, and advanced systems to optimize growth rates and prevent disease outbreaks. Such requirements add to the costs of insect-rearing operations.


3. Feed requirements

The feed conversion efficiency of edible insects is generally higher than that of traditional livestock. However, the cost of insect feed, such as grains, fruits, and vegetables, can still be a significant expense.


In addition, some insect species have specific dietary preferences, necessitating the cultivation of specialized feed sources. These factors contribute to the overall cost of insect production.


feed bag

4. Regulatory hurdles

The edible insect industry is subject to various regulations and standards that ensure consumer safety and product quality. Compliance with these regulations adds to the expenses associated with production, processing, packaging, and labelling.


Obtaining necessary certifications and meeting regulatory requirements often requires financial investments, further contributing to the higher prices of edible insects.


5. Limited distribution channels

The availability of edible insects in mainstream markets remains limited. Although the demand for insects as a food source is growing, the distribution infrastructure is not as well-developed as that of conventional food products.


Limited accessibility can lead to higher prices due to the costs associated with niche distribution networks and specialized retailers.


Will edible insects become cheaper in the future?

mealworms in hand

It is likely that edible insects will become more affordable in the future. Here are a few reasons that suggest a potential decrease in the prices of edible insects:


Increased production efficiency

As the edible insect industry continues to develop and mature, advancements in production techniques, automation, and optimization are expected. These improvements can lead to increased production efficiency, reduced labour costs, and economies of scale, resulting in lower production costs.


ynsect farm

Technological innovations

Technological advancements can play a significant role in lowering the costs associated with insect production. Innovations in feed formulations, automated rearing systems, and optimized environmental control can help streamline the production process and reduce expenses.


Research and knowledge expansion

Ongoing research and increased knowledge about insect rearing, nutrition, and processing can lead to improved practices and cost-effective solutions. As scientific understanding grows, more efficient and cost-effective methods of producing edible insects are likely to emerge.


Growing market demand

The rising interest in alternative protein sources, sustainability, and environmental concerns have created a growing market demand for edible insects. Increased demand can incentivize investments in production facilities, technology, and research, driving economies of scale and ultimately reducing prices.


couple at market

Development of supply chains

As the edible insect industry develops, the establishment of robust supply chains, including cultivation, processing, distribution, and retail networks, can help optimize logistics and reduce costs. Expanded distribution channels and increased competition among suppliers can contribute to price reductions.


Regulatory streamlining

As the edible insect industry gains recognition and regulatory frameworks are refined, the process of obtaining certifications and meeting standards may become more streamlined. Simplifying and harmonizing regulations can help reduce compliance costs and make edible insect production more economically viable.


While it is difficult to predict the exact timeline and extent of price reductions, the factors mentioned above suggest that edible insects have the potential to become more affordable in the future as the industry continues to evolve and mature.


Conclusion

While the demand for edible insects as a sustainable protein source continues to rise, their higher price points act as a barrier to wider adoption.


As the industry grows, advancements in production methods, increased efficiency, and economies of scale may help reduce costs and make edible insects more accessible to consumers.


frozen crickets

Sources

van Huis, A. (2013). Potential of insects as food and feed in assuring food security. Annual Review of Entomology, 58, 563-583.


Rumpold, B. A., & Schlüter, O. K. (2013). Nutritional composition and safety aspects of edible insects. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 57(5), 802-823.


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