Updated: Mar 23, 2022
The impact of Brexit on the edible insect market
In order to make edible insect consumption more economical and widespread, the edible insect businesses must first overcome post Brexit legislative hurdles.
In an interview with Sifted (backed by the Financial Times), HOP’s Managing Director & Co-Founder, Dr Geoffrey Knott, explained that prior to Brexit “ HOP was outsourcing and manufacturing its products which were being sold in independent shops throughout Surrey and London. Within their first year, HOP signed on large retailer Muscle Food and started stocking its products in the Scout Store, along with approaching well known retailers in the UK market and running a successful Kickstarter campaign raising £11,000 in 3 weeks from over 170 people”.
Come 2021, legislative obstacles from Brexit caused a pause in production for many edible insect based businesses such as HOP, as of January 1st 2021, EU laws on novel food regulations were inherited. The reason being was to ‘facilitate the marketing of traditional foods from countries outside the EU, that are considered novel’ https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/novel-food/legislation_en.
Dr Geoffrey Knott highlighted in the interview that in order to sell to an open market “...insects need to be approved in the UK. To do so, we have to send a comprehensive report to the European Foods Standards Agency (FSA) where it is all centralised. Post Brexit, the EU law is much the same and now it’s our own UK Food Standards Agency that has to administer it.”
Despite the legislative hurdles, the EU’s edible insect industry is progressing as Dr Knott explained that in the current situation “There are applications in progress, for example, crickets, mealworms and locusts are all getting approved so there is movement in the right direction on the EU side, with the UK hopefully following suit, however, every insect species needs an application of its own, meaning that the FSA will need to assess each application.”
With progression within the edible insect business, Dr Knott told FT “we are in constant correspondence with the FSA who are leaning towards being more pro-insect despite the EU Novel Foods law within the UK causing delays. We have proposed to the FSA for us to be given a transitional agreement like the EU had whilst the approval process is underway.”
To find out more about the EU novel food law and how HOP, along with other members in both the UK and EU edible insect markets (Woven Network and Belgian Insect Industry Federations, respectively) are changing the way we see food, visit HOP’s blog which discusses the novel food law at: https://www.hopbar.co.uk/post/bringbackcrickets.
Alternatively, if you are a student at the University of Surrey, Dr Geoffrey Knott will be holding a talk on innovation and entrepreneurship on Thursday March 17th 2022 at the Business School.