January February 2019 Newsletter                                        View this email in your browser


New members of Woven Network expert panel, Forum open to non-members, Trade Fair proposal, Membership benefits
Black soldier fly on BBC Farming Today
Ugandan grasshopper harvest
Research Institute for Resource Insects, Yunnan, China
Business news
‘Soy Alert’ Friends of the Earth
EU hygiene rules for insects
Zero Waste Scotland meeting report

If this copy of the newsletter is not your own, will take you to where you can receive your own free copy. Free Associate Membership also includes the Woven newsletter.

Three New Members join Woven Network Expert Panel

David Drew – Co-Founder & Executive Director of AgriProtein, South Africa.
Robert Nathan Allen – Chairman of the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture (NACIA)
Ying Feng – Head of the Research Institute of Resource Insects (RIRI), Kunming, China
Full details of the whole panel are on the Woven-Network website tab: ‘About’. Expert panel members have agreed to take questions from Woven members. Their answers will support the sharing of information about the latest developments in insect farming around the world. Their publications will be hosted on our website as they are released.

Website Forum now open to non-members


Trade Fair survey

The Woven Network team believes that a “trade fair” event for the farmed insect community of businesses would be valuable and we could host it in the UK. This an event would attract companies from across the value chain - from farming technology to insect farms to users of farmed insect materials. We will include talks and sessions with experts on regulations, standards, market entry, technology, trends, and business opportunities. We aim to attract representation from businesses around the world - not just UK-based but those interested in the UK as a market or customer.

We are keen to learn your views on this. Please let us know by Survey Monkey or by email to

Woven Network membership benefits

We have collated a lot of the information we have gathered over recent years into one place for our paid members. This can be found on the Woven-Network website in the Members drop down tab: Resources. It includes the following (with much more to come):
  • An extensive research article repository with links to publications on topics ranging from insect farming to policy to insects as feed
  • IFF news through our dedicated news channel
  • In-depth institutional reports our network have shared with us over the years
  • Links to useful forums (including our own)
  • Links to useful organisations (including our partners)
  • Other miscellaneous links (e.g. insect-related recipes, infographics, etc.)

Black soldier fly on Farming Today

On Friday 28 December 2018 Sybil Ruscoe broadcast the whole episode of BBC Radio 4's early morning Farming Today programme from an insect farm in the Cotswolds. She gave her first impressions as she passed through the life cycle of black soldier flies in a development start-up.
The identity of the organisation was not revealed, but it bore a striking resemblance to James and Paul Wright gave a concise account of the environmental advantages of insects as feed and the current regulations without giving away any of the secrets of their processes, other than the flies are given only plants and not meat to eat. They are seeking £ 14.5 million to transform their systems into commercial production.

The Ugandan love of grasshoppers - and how to harvest them

Also in December 2018, BBC News ran an article on the Ugandan grasshopper harvest. These are delicacies, boiled or fried, but recent declining harvests are giving cause for concern.

Research Institute for Resource Insects

While in Yunnan Province, China, in January 2019, I was able to visit the Research Institute for Resource Insects. This institute has a number of departments investigating a range of areas where insects can be beneficial.  One of these is the area of edible insects and insects for livestock feed. 

The institute has documented over 300 different species of edible insects across China and carried out studies into their nutritional make-up, health-giving properties and technologies for farming them.
They were very pleased to receive my visit, try some British insect products and we discussed a number of ways in which we could work together. They are just launching a new network of their own with businesses working in insect farming. 
One idea that I explored was the potential for them to carry out the studies needed to enable evidence portfolios to be created for species of insects not currently benefiting from applications to be approved under the Novel Food regulations.  We will investigate what quality standards their laboratories have to comply with for their findings to be accepted but it may be a way in which these studies can be carried out at a lower cost than in the UK.
I was very pleased to be given a copy of their book on edible insects in China, sadly in Chinese.
The slides from their presentations are available on the Woven website.
Their areas of research focus on:
  • Investigation of entomophagy practices in China;
  • Edible species investigation and identification;
  • Nutrition analysis and food safety evaluation;
  • Study on biological characteristics of important species;
  • Genetic structure and genetic variation analysis;
  • Extraction, identification and functional analysis of active ingredients
They have gathered evidence and samples of the wide range of edible insects:
  • Over 40 new-found edible species have been discovered through investigation and identification;
  • An insect collection has been established, and about 100 kinds of insects from 35 family 10 orders.
 Their nutrition analysis
  • 55 species edible insects, mainly focus on wasp, dragonfly and moth.
  • Heavy metal analysis, microbiological analysis and purines and uric acid contents analysis also have been carried on in some insects, such as wasps, cockroach, dragonflies,
 Developing farming technology for certain species:
  • Grasshopper, wasp, cockroach, cricket, darkling beetle……
 Studying the composition of insects:
  • Protein
  • Oil: Small molecules weight, excellent penetrability and other properties
  • Chitin
  • Polysaccharide
  • Antimicrobial peptides
Do get in touch if you would like to explore the potential for collaboration.

Increased investment in insect production

Beyhan de Jong, Associate Analyst at Rabobank has described in a report how growth in insect production is being enabled by a 40% increase in investment in 2018.

AgriProtein extends into Europe

AgriProtein have acquired Belgian firm Millibeter N.V., based in Turnhout, Antwerp, and will fund the construction of a Millibeter factory in Belgium. AgriProtein had already established a joint venture with Dutch company Sustainable Protein B.V. in Europe. Millibeter has received funding from the Innovation Fund, opening up collaboration with their chemical and life sciences companies.
As well as extending their reach, the company will re-brand as Insect Technology Group along with its other companies, Circular Organics and MultiCycle Technologies.

Anteater NZ closes

The Christchurch firm has been supplying high quality insects and insect products to the restaurant trade, and advocating incremental change for sustainability. It has been unable to expand to establish production of the huhu grub and has decided to close. @anteater_nz

Soy Alert

Friends of the Earth, Europe published ‘Soy Alert’ in November 2018. It highlights the environmental harm caused by using soy for 40% of animal feed.
One of the four policy recommendations is to promote the production of diverse and underused protein sources for human food over intensive animal production. However, their suggestion is to concentrate on leguminous crops and crop rotations with financial support, rather than looking beyond plants for protein i.e. insects.
The European Parliament adopted a European strategy for the promotion of protein crops in April 2018, 2017/2116(INI)
The Commission have followed this with a report published on 21 November to the Council and European Parliament on the development of plant proteins in the European Union to promote the benefits of plant protein for nutrition, health, climate and environment, principally soy, chick peas, lentils, and rape seed.

In response, the European Algae Biomass Association (EABA) and International Platform for Insects as Food and Feed (IPIFF) have together sought from the EU funding to develop their alternative sources of protein for food and feed, and information campaigns to promote them, referring to the Business Innovation Observatory report ‘Sustainable, safe and nutritious food, new nutrient sources.'


Edible chocolate covered giant ants, toasted scorpions, basil fusilli pasta, and raspberry and pumpkin seed granola – made from flour from ground buffalo worms – are on sale in Selfridges’ food halls along with dark chocolate and fig protein bars made with cricket flour.
The products have been developed by the specialist French brand Jimini’s, which sells through Spanish and German supermarkets and is aiming to expand its presence in the UK. The new products are exclusive to Selfridges.


Sainsbury’s are stocking Yora insect based dog food. The food contains 40% black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, and about 20% each of potato and oats. Protix, Eindhoven, supply the black soldier fly content.

EU hygiene rules for insects intended for human consumption

EU regulation 853/2004 establishes hygiene rules on food. There will be a new Section in Annex III on insects, because more insects are being consumed and exported to the EU. Dead insects, parts of them and processed insects are subject to authorisation under Novel Food Regulation EU 2015/2283. Hygiene requirements exist already for insects used in feed. There are now draft minimum hygiene requirements for live and dead insects intended as food.
 Feedback may be given until 20 February 2019 by following this link.

Opportunities for insect farming in Scotland – Edinburgh, 7 February 2019

Following the report by Anton Riera and Michael Lenaghan ‘Black Soldier Fly – a circular economy solution for Scotland', Zero Waste Scotland hosted a workshop in the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation on 7 February to promote the use of black soldier fly, and its derivatives of biodiesel, chitin, and fertiliser in Scotland’s food and drink, salmon farming, and biorefining industries.
The first session reviewed the need for new sources of protein for feed as demand increases annually. EU reports have warned of the imbalance between protein supply and demand, sought to reduce dependency on imported protein, and proposed alternatives that can be sourced in the EU such as legumes, seaweed, and insects. Black solider fly has proved suitable to provide protein, biodiesels, chitin, antimicrobials, and biofertiliser from its composition and its higher digestibility than plant protein derived from high lauric acid content. Insect production can be automated and concentrated in a building, but the reduction in land use depends on what land is required to generate the substrate on which the insects are fed.
Perceptions how regulation of insect production has developed to its current state were given from the industry, International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, and Scottish government agencies of animal health, environmental protection, and food standards.
The opportunities that exist in Scotland to generate protein depend on geography. 80% of agricultural land is grassland to the West, with arable land to the lowland coastal East. The food and drink industry have protein by-products. There is a target to reduce this waste and household mixed waste by 33%. Other by-products are slurry, manure, poultry litter, straw, crop stems, and outgrades from food production.
To take advantage of these sources there is an Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, IBiolC , and heat network partnerships, that will provide assistance with measurement, opportunities, development, and implementation. Business and environmental funding and support are available from Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Scottish Aquaculture is a 1.8 billion per year industry. Fishmeal is being reduced in existing feed, and there is potential to replace plant protein in feed with insects. The amino acid composition is suitable, ash content measurably high, and chitin content lower than thought, but the scale and reliability of supply has to increase many fold for it to become a substantial substitute for other forms of protein.
Four entopreneurs presented their different approaches to the business of insect production.
Betabugs are breeding black soldier fly to select traits required by producers.
Entocycle have a hub and spoke approach, where larvae are sent out to farms where they grow, and are then harvested and dried before being returned to Entocycle for processing.
Entogreen are building a full production plant in Portugal.
Multibox have developed production, processing, and automation in a research environment and are now seeking investment to start production.
Bon Tjeenk Willink from Protix closed the workshop by giving the story how Protix has developed from a room and a shipping container in 2009, then grown through a succession of buildings and sites to a 3000 m2 modular plant with scalable automated processes and scrupulous hygiene to manufacture protein and lipid products from black soldier fly. Along the way investment has allowed other companies using different insect species to be incorporated into the business. Current applications are in pet food and aquaculture, but changes to regulations will allow expansion to other sectors.
Scottish agriculture and industry have the demand and substrates to support production of insects and insect products. An innovative approach to the regulation and investment of this industry is required to establish quickly a leading position in the world for insect production in Scotland.
An extended report is available on the Woven-Network website.


21 March 2019 18:00-20:00
An evening of insects and wine tasting
Thirsty Cambridge, 46 Chesterton Road, CB4 1EN
As part of the Cambridge Science Festival 11-24 March 2019, UCCRI (University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute) and Cambridge Global Food Security have organised for Charlotte Payne and Chris Kaplonski to present dishes and wines on offer. Details at .
The event costs £15 and booking is required through


2-3 April 2019
Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester
Insects for food and feed
Entomorphagy special interest group

This conference will draw together the multidisciplinary aspects of this emerging industry and will provide a forum for participants to discuss the progress that has been made over the previous year, exchange ideas and expand their existing networks. The conference will be streamed live on the internet and a ten minute film of the highlights of each day will be produced.
Day one will focus on insects, as part of human diets, while day two will examine insects as animal feed. Both days will begin with a case study followed by three short presentations that outline developments and challenges in that sector. Lunch will be followed by a general discussion. At the end of day one the Agricultural Innovation Centre “Farm 491” will provide a drinks reception in their new state of the art building. The conference dinner will then be held in the universities dining hall. There will also be a trade fair on both days where companies associated with this industry can showcase their products and services.

8-10 April 2019
The Ingredients Show
NEC, Birmingham
14:00 9 April 2019, panel discussion on insects as food ingredients
Free entry

6-9 May 2019
Food innovation summit – in the world
Fiera Milano, Rho, Italy

6-8 November 2019
1st Brazilian conference on edible insects and associated technologies, and 2nd Symposium on Anthropo-entomophagy.
UFMG-Montes Claros, MG, Brazil
Brazil is a hotspot for biodiversity of animals especially insects. The tropical weather and the availability of sun all year round in a much of this country make it a perfect candidate for the breeding and harvesting insects that can be used as feed and food for animal and human consumption, respectively. Moreover, the usage of insects to recycle waste streams derived from livestock and poultry industry could be a low-cost solution to prevent contamination of the environment, and at same, time producing a sustainable protein source to be used in poultry, livestock and aquaculture. Attracting investments (private and federal) in order to develop research in this field is the ultimate goal of this conference, which will enable this industry to flourish.
3–6 June 2020
3rd International Conference: Insects to Feed the World – IFW2020
Québec City Convention Centre, Canada


1. The business of eating bugs, Weidman T, Wegner N, 3 January 2019
BBC Capital gallery
15 annotated images of entomorphagy.

2. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Lancet 2019; 393: 447–92
The authors proposed a healthy reference diet largely comprising vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and unsaturated oils, a low to moderate amount of seafood and poultry, no or a low quantity of red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains, and starchy vegetables. Despite focussing on sustainable food systems, insects were mentioned in a single sentence. Lacking studies on the long-term effects, insects were not considered despite being present in some traditional diets and being demonstrated to have little effect on the environment.
3, Elorinne A-L, Niva M, Vartianinen O, Väisänen Pertti. Insect consumption attitudes among vegans, non-vegan vegetarians, and omnivores. Nutrients 201911(2), 292;
This study examines the attitude (A), subjective norm (SN), perceived behavioural control (PC), and food neophobia (FN) toward the consumption of foods of insect origin, as well as the conditions for eating insect-based foods among vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. Methods: The data was obtained by using an online survey and convenience sampling (n = 567, of whom omnivores represented 74%, vegans 5%, and non-vegan vegetarians 22%). Results: The three dietary groups exhibited significantly different intention (I) to eat foods of insect origin. Vegans held the most rigid negative attitude (A), and their subjective norm (SN) to eat insects was weaker compared to that of omnivores (p < 0.001) and non-vegan vegetarians (p < 0.001). Vegans’ perceived behavioral control (PC) over their eating of insects was stronger compared to that of omnivores (p < 0.001) and non-vegan vegetarians p < 0.001), and they were more neophobic than omnivores (p < 0.001) and non-vegan vegetarians (p < 0.001). Non-vegan vegetarians held the most positive attitude toward eating insects, and both non-vegan vegetarians and omnivores thought that insect consumption is wise and offers a solution to the world’s nutrition problems. In contrast, vegans regarded insect consumption as immoral and irresponsible. Conclusions: Vegans’ weak intention, negative attitude, and low willingness to eat insects in the future exhibit their different dietarian identity compared to that of omnivores and non-vegan vegetarians.
4. Cox S, Payne C, Badolo A, Attenborough R, Milbank C. The nutritional role of insects as food: a case study of ‘chitoumou’ (Cirina butyrospermi), an edible caterpillar in rural Burkina Faso. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed 2018
Insects are frequently promoted as a nutritious food. Yet they are a diverse class, and few data are available on their dietary role. In this paper, we present the nutritional role of ‘chitoumou’, the edible caterpillar Cirina butyrospermi, in the diet of rural smallholder farmers in southwestern Burkina Faso. We collected detailed dietary data via 24-h recall interviews (n=64), which we conducted with women who were predominantly responsible for making decisions on food preparation for their households (n=16) during and out of caterpillar season. We found that ethnicity did not predict caterpillar consumption. Diets that contained caterpillars were richer in protein (P<0.05) and calcium (P<0.05), key nutrients for combating malnutrition in this region. We conclude that edible insects play an important nutritional role among smallholder communities in southwestern Burkina Faso, but that more data are required to confirm the bioavailability of nutrients found in caterpillars, the effect of the cooking process on caterpillar nutritional quality and consequent health outcomes for people that consume them. To inform policy and the way in which insects are promoted as food, it is imperative that further research is done to quantify the nutritional role of edible insects in current human diets.

5. Feng Y, Chen X-M, Zhao M, He Z, Sun L, W C-Y, D W-F. Edible insects in China: utilization and prospects. Insect Science 2017; 0: 1–15, DOI 10.1111/1744-7917.12449
Currently, 324 species of insects from 11 orders are documented that are either edible or associated with entomophagy in China. However, only approximately 10 to 20 types of insects are regularly consumed. The nutritional values for 174 species are available in China. Although the nutritional values vary among species, all the insects examined contain protein, fat, vitamins and minerals at levels that meet human nutritional requirements. People directly consume insects or food products made from insects. and also consume insects indirectly by eating livestock that were fed insects. Although limited, the data on the food safety of insects indicate that insects are safe for food or feed. Incidences of allergic reactions after consuming silkworm pupae, cicadas and crickets have been reported in China. Insect farming is a unique breeding industry in rural China and is a source of income for local people. Insects are reared and bred for human food, medicine and animal feed using two approaches in China: the insects are either fully domesticated and reared completely in captivity or are partially raised in captivity, and the insect habitat is manipulated to increase production. The social and scientific communities must work together to promote the use of insects as food and feed.
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