At a time of rising population and decreasing resources, especially in a very densely populated area like North-West Europe, sustainable alternatives for resources for food are needed. Insects could also be one of them. As part of Interreg North-West Europe, the ValuSect consortium aims to strengthen the transnational cooperation and exploitation of research on insects as resources for the development of (semi) finished food products.
Currently mainly driven by demand from migrated communities or by the development of niche markets, the trade in insects as food in Western countries is limited but could be broadly expanded thanks to the ValuSect consortium. Its lead partner organisation is the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences. Together with this leader, 9 full members as well as 8 associated partners from 7 countries are part of this transnational project.
Approximately 30% of the EU consumers is willing to eat insect-based food, a practice also known as entomophagy. The ValuSect consortium aims to enhance such level of perception by improving the quality of the insect production and processing, including its environmental impact. Research will be done on the emission of greenhouse gasses, on the impact of the substrate, on food safety and on the shelf life of the food product.
The project will use insect species that are subject of a novel food dossier. It will focus on the development of an accelerator program for insect-based food products. In the form of various amount of vouchers for SMEs, this program will transfer knowledge to enterprises and actors from the whole supply chain. Such knowledge transfers between stakeholders will be key for the development of this market.
Improving insect production as well as consumers’ attitude are at the heart of the project which aspires to make insects a crucial part of the tomorrow’s more sustainable diet of North-West Europe.
From April 2021 onwards, the ValuSect project does not only support the development of insects for food, but also extends its research and knowledge transfer to feed. An additional vouchers call for feed will be launched at the end of 2021, offering the opportunity to SMEs in the insects as feed sector to also boost their business.