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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Maggot Meatballs?

    Coming Soon: Faux-Meat Burgers Made From Maggots and Mealworms

    Growing numbers of producers are exploring insects as a source of protein.
    By K Oanh Ha
    December 3, 2021, 12:01 PM GMT+7


    Black soldier fly larvae. PHOTOGRAPHER: DAVID AVAZZADEH FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK
    5:03

    Diners have increasingly warmed to the idea of burgers made from peas and coconut oil, crab cakes crafted from artichokes and kelp, and chicken nuggets formed with gluten and tapioca starch. Big food producers are betting they’ll soon welcome crickets, beetles, mealworms, and maggots to the mix as well. “Everyone is looking at the environmental impact of sourcing food, so there’s a lot of growth potential,” says Tunyawat Kasemsuwan, group director of innovation at canned-tuna producer Thai Union Group Pcl, which is diversifying into insect proteins. “Chicken and tuna made from vegetables, cellular culture, or insects—we know the demand for it will grow much more than what we’re seeing today.”


    A package of precooked insect burgers made from mealworms at a supermarket in Geneva.
    PHOTOGRAPHER: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

    Although vegetarians wouldn’t eat them—insects are, after all, animals—bug evangelists say the 2,000 or so species of edible critters have a lower carbon footprint and require less land than livestock and many grains. And various breeds have differing characteristics that fans say make them work as a food source: Mealworms are clean, odorless, and rich in minerals and vitamins; crickets and grasshoppers are loaded with protein; fruit fly larvae—most people call them maggots—have a mild taste and light color, so they’re easy to hide in foods; black soldier fly larvae will eat virtually any organic waste.

    The potential market got a big lift this year when the European Union approved locusts and mealworms for human consumption, and EU regulators say they’re examining applications for almost a dozen other species. Barclays Plc predicts annual sales of edible bugs will grow to $8 billion by 2030, from less than $1 billion in 2019—a potential challenge to the $30 billion plant-based faux-meat market dominated by Impossible Foods Inc. and Beyond Meat Inc. “Pound for pound, insects are more efficient than livestock and need less space to grow than soy,” says Mohammed Ashour, chief executive officer of Aspire Food Group, which is building an 11-story vertical cricket farm in Ontario. “And insects are one of the easiest things to make delicious. They take on the flavor of whatever you feed them.”

    More than 2 billion people in developing countries eat insects, but most consumers in wealthier places find the idea, well, icky. That’s spurred dozens of companies worldwide to develop bug-based foods that don’t look, feel, or taste buggy. Thai Union, which sells tuna and other seafood products under a dozen brands such as Chicken of the Sea and John West, in 2019 introduced a $30 million venture fund that’s invested in three insect-protein startups. Another Bangkok giant, Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl, is researching black soldier flies as food for humans and animals. Paris-based Ynsect SAS sells buffalo mealworm powder that’s used in faux meat sold in supermarkets and restaurants in Austria and Denmark. “This is insect farming 2.0,” says Constant Tedder, founder of FlyFarm, a startup that builds automated critter factories. “Right now, people are making jokes about bugs. Soon, you’ll be eating them in your burger.”


    Livin Farms uses black soldier fly larvae to make a protein powder.
    PHOTOGRAPHER: DAVID AVAZZADEH FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

    Much of the research into boosting the appeal of plant-based faux meat will also help insect producers, says Eran Gronich, CEO of Flying Spark, an Israeli startup backed by Thai Union. The company is working on seafood alternatives based on fruit fly larvae that take just a week to reach maturity. One product is a canned-tuna substitute that’s made by combining protein from the larvae with spices, flavoring, and color to mimic the real thing. “We can create different textures, smells, tastes, and colors using the latest food technology,” Gronich says. “You can get people to try it once, but if it doesn’t taste great, they’ll never come back.”

    Livin Farms CEO Katharina Unger.
    PHOTOGRAPHER: DAVID AVAZZADEH FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

    Many companies are starting with food for animals. About 90% of the 3 million tons of insect protein expected to be produced in Europe in 2030 will go into animal feed or pet foods, according to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, a nonprofit in Brussels. And for the past couple of years, companies such as Cargill, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and Purina have been making pet food, fish meal, and livestock feed that include bugs. “There’s huge demand for insects in the premium pet food category,” says Gorjan Nikolik, senior analyst at Rabobank.

    As interest in insect protein picks up, demand has started to outstrip supply, spurring some entrepreneurs to search for new ways to grow bugs. One idea is feeding them food waste such as overripe vegetables, fruit pulp from juice producers, and grains left over from brewing. Livin Farms, a startup in Vienna, aims to build dozens of facilities near food-processing plants in Europe and Asia that will each produce anywhere from 500 tons to 30,000 tons of insect protein a year. The automated facilities will use robots to turn black soldier fly larvae into powder, extracting the oil, which can be used for feed. As a bonus, they’ll also collect frass—fly poop—to be sold as fertilizer. “There’s millions of tons of food waste,” says Livin Farms CEO Katharina Unger. “With an insect factory, they cut down their emissions and turn the waste into a product they can sell.”

    BOTTOM LINE - While insects are consumed around the world, people in wealthier places dislike the idea, spurring companies to develop bug-based foods that don’t look, feel, or taste buggy.
    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  2. #2
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    insects are consumed around the world
    Around the corner as well.

    Maggot Meatballs?-8263578084_1915398b8c_o-jpg

  3. #3
    Chinese spy sabang's Avatar
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    Well at least they're dead. I will never forget that time in my local Isaan village, having my customary beer at the local shop while wife shopped at the market. They grilled up meaty treats such as Isaan pork sausages, did quite a passable trade actually. So I'm sitting there next to the charcoal grill, looking on in horror as maggots made their hasty exit from the sausages being grilled! Kinda put me off that did.

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat
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    Jeff will be reading this wanting to type into his KFC grease soaked keyboard you people don't know what you're missing, maggots are tasty

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Eating insects from the corner market is ok but the thought of smashing them up into a burger puts me off for some reason.

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    Eating insects from the corner market is ok
    ...a level of hunger I will never understand...

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    The smaller crunchy bugs are better than peanuts with your beer! Give it a try.

    Some of the bigger insects which don’t get cooked all the way through are a bit yucky though.

  8. #8
    Chinese spy sabang's Avatar
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    Yeh I'm fine with hoppers- not much into silkworms though.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat russellsimpson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    The smaller crunchy bugs are better than peanuts with your beer! Give it a try.

    Some of the bigger insects which don’t get cooked all the way through are a bit yucky though.
    No need for too much detail.

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    The smaller crunchy bugs are better than peanuts with your beer!
    ...fortunately, I'm not a beer drinker...

  11. #11
    SMILEY VIRUS
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    I'm not a beer drinker...
    As our resident gourmet can you solve the epicure's quandry, is t best to lick the balls first or gobble them whole?

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...^forwarded to the kitchen thread...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    The smaller crunchy bugs are better than peanuts with your beer! Give it a try.
    Dry roasted termites are good with a cold beer. I also like ants eggs, quite juicy and nice texture to them.

    Is it the jewel beetle that has that really good smell and flavour?

  14. #14
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    Is it the jewel beetle that has that really good smell and flavour?
    ...only to a male of the species...

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Ant eggs are good in Issan style soup. Great stuff.

    Don’t think I’ve seen jewel beetles cooked, but the giant water bugs (mangda) I avoid both fried up and as flavoring in food. Jeezus, it stinks.

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat Saint Willy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    but the giant water bugs (mangda) I avoid

    Yup, with you there.

    Happy to eat crickets or ants or silkworms but I just cannot eat something that looks like a cockroach.

  17. #17
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    There's been a rumour (for many years already) that the hamburger patties that Jollibee use are mixed with earthworm meat. It doesn't bother me ifvit does - they don't claim to be 100% beef. But my guess is, if it's not earthworm, patties are probably mixed with soya or other plant protein. The cheaper brands of tinned corned beef are mixed with soya.

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by katie23 View Post
    It doesn't bother me if it does
    ...cut out the middle man and dig them up yourself...

  19. #19
    Chinese spy sabang's Avatar
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    the only problem I have with the patties Jollibee uses is that they ain't much good!

  20. #20
    Thailand Expat panama hat's Avatar
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    Nothing at Jollibee is - a true reflection of food in the Phils.

  21. #21
    Isle of discombobulation Joe 90's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    Some of the bigger insects which don’t get cooked all the way through are a bit yucky though.
    Those scorpions are a tad chewy in the middle.

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