Insects: New Alternatives to Food Production and Food Waste Reduction in Hong Kong
Olivier Sparagano City University of Hong Kong
The world population is increasing at an alarming rate while food production is unevenly distributed and food wastage is becoming an environmental problem. Hong Kong is one of the most populated cities in the world and is facing such challenges with the majority of food being imported and landfill space being at a premium and negatively impacting on the environment and living space. Edible insects are not only a source of protein (3.5 less times of fat in a grasshopper compared to beef meat), which could help alleviate hunger but could be sustainable in developing insectaries (a market worth US$477 millions in the Asia-Pacific region by 2023). Many Asian and African countries are relying on insects as a cheaper and protein-rich source of food but if we want to develop more food products, then the usual food licensing and quality assurance requirements would need to be followwed to reassure the consumers that such insect-related food also do not carry pathogens they might transport when alive. Such insects (adult forms or larvae) can be used as a whole or crushed in a powder form as developed by several HK-based companies. According to the FAO, Coleoptera and Lepidoptera are the most consumed insect groups. A single locust swarm could be made of circa 80 billion individuals. On the other hand, some insect larvae such as the one from the black fly soldier (Hermetia illucens) are used successfully feeding of manure or food wastes to reduced waste disposal and such initiatives are starting to emerge in Hong Kong. In 2021 the new Green Tech Fund projects, from the Hong Kong Government, will be funded allowing entrepreneurs to develop new ideas such as using insects for waste management, which could radically change the way Hong Kong is dealing with food waste for instance. Insects often seen as a pest could be soon considered as environmental friends to sustain food production and waste reduction.