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

CateringNews Middle East - - Grif 2018 -

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.

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