Because they are clean, and insects are finding their way into protein bars and other common foods sources.
The huge cost to the planet, with regards to meat protein, water usage etc.
Pdf file to large to download.
By 2050, the world’s popula on is expected to surpass 9 billion people, adding
more than 2 billion individuals to an already crowded planet. Coupled with
expanding economic wealth and purchasing power, FAO es mates indicate that
global food produc on will need to expand by an es mated 60 percent from
current levels to meet global food requirements in 2050.
Mee ng this massive addi onal demand for food will require concerted ac on
on a number of fronts. While substan ally increasing yields and cropping
intensi es of major cereal crops is an obvious need, eff orts will also have to
focus on increasing the produc on and consump on of currently under-u lized
and under-appreciated foods. Many of these foods currently lack recogni on
and apprecia on of their poten al to contribute to food security; the increased
consump on of others is variously constrained by produc on, processing and
trade constraints and challenges.
Edible insects comprise one such category of under-u lized foods that off er
signifi cant poten al to contribute to mee ng future global food demands.
Although widely reviled in European and North American society and media,
more than 1 600 species of insects are documented as being consumed by
humans. Insects tradi onally were an integral element of human diets in nearly
100 countries of the world – par cularly in Asia and the Pacifi c, Africa and La n
America (Durst et al. 2010).
Insects off er several advantages as human food. Insects are extremely rich in
protein, vitamins and minerals, and at the same me are highly effi cient in
conver ng the food they eat into material that can be consumed by humans.
These high food-conversion effi ciencies – up to six mes more effi cient than
beef ca le – coupled with other physiological advantages mean that insects
consumed as human food have a far less nega ve impact on the environment,
including greenhouse gas emissions, than conven onal livestock. Insects are
typically collected from wild habitats or farmed by small-scale producers, thus
genera ng signifi cant income and employment opportuni es for rural households.
Like many people throughout Asia and the Pacifi c, Thai people have a long
history and tradi on of consuming insects as food. But while the consump on
of insects by humans has declined in many areas (due in part to the nega ve
portrayal of the prac ce in Western media), consump on of insects in Thailand
remains widespread and has actually increased drama cally in recent decades,
above historical levels. Insects are clearly a “food of choice” for Thai people,
refl ected by sustained and growing consumer demand and high market prices
paid for edible insects – typically far higher than the price of chicken, beef or
Thailand is also one of the few countries in the world to have developed a viable
and thriving insect farming sector. More than 20 000 insect farming enterprises
are now registered in the country, most of which are small-scale household
opera ons. Insect farming has emerged as a signifi cant economic ac vity in
Thailand only in the past two decades, driven by strong market demand and
eff ec vely supported by university research and extension, and innova ve
private-sector food processors and sellers. Overall, insect farming, collec on,
processing, transport and marke ng has emerged as a mul -million dollar sector,
providing income and employment for tens of thousands of Thai people, and
healthy and nutri ous food for millions of consumers.
To be er understand the phenomenal development and evolu on of the Thai
edible insect sector, the FAO Regional Offi ce for Asia and the Pacifi c collaborated
with Khon Kaen University to review and assess the trends, current status and
prac ces of insect collec on and farming, processing, marke ng and trade in
the country. Six-legged livestock: edible insect farming, collec on and marke ng
in Thailand is the result of that review and assessment, which included na onwide
surveys and interviews with farmers, collectors, processors, and sellers of
edible insects at all levels.
It is hoped that by making this informa on about the thriving Thai edible insect
industry accessible and more widely known, others in the region and throughout
the world will more fully recognize the poten al of edible insects to contribute
to food security and nutri on in a sustainable sound manner, increase rural
income and livelihoods, and reduce the environmental burden of feeding the
growing world popula on.
FAO encourages other countries to consider the Thai experience and stands
ready to facilitate the further exchange of informa on and technology related
to this exci ng, but under-appreciated, opportunity to build upon the rich
tradi ons and cultures of ea ng insects while expanding the op ons for enhancing
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representa ve
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