Bug up FOR protein
Speaking at GRIF 2018, Mohammed Ashour, CEO of Aspire Food Group, a food-tech company based in Texas, discussed his company’s efforts to develop technology that commercialises a clean and ethical source of animal protein from insects. We caught up with hi
YOUR SESSION WAS NAMED ‘ARE INSECTS THE NEW SUSHI’, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
We are referring to a consumer behavioural change that results in a mainstream, cultural acceptance of a food that was previously on the fringes of society and only consumed by a niche base.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT WE DIVERSIFY OUR DIETS AND LOOK AT INSECTS?
It is extremely important. Diversification of diets, especially our protein intake, is not just important because of the ecological concerns associated with our reliance on traditional livestock, but also for our own health and wellbeing. • Over the next 30 years, the earth’s population will reach nearly 10 billion people.
Two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in urban areas and appetites, especially for animal protein, is expected to grow.
The rise in population and appetite coincides with a major reduction in critical agricultural resources. • •
IN TERMS OF SUSTAINABILITY IN THE REGION, ARE RESTAURANTS DOING ENOUGH?
I do not believe so. Sustainability has to be a cultural conversation and not merely a one-off practice. The restaurant industry must take collective action across the entire supply and value chains to ensure that sustainability is central to doing business and not merely a PR strategy. Legitimate conversations and actions need to take place around reducing the carbon footprint from farm to table and also, from the table back to farm as food waste is still a major problem in the industry.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE REACTION FROM THE INDUSTRY WHEN YOU DISCUSS INSECTS AND PROTEIN WITH THEM?
It is extremely positive. Restaurants are always on the lookout for new consumer trends to continue to provide differentiated and value-added experiences for an increasingly discerning and demanding customer base. Given that consumers are trending towards food that is healthier, more sustainable and commands a transparent supply chain, insect protein presents a refreshing option that aligns strongly with these preferences.