Updated: May 16, 2022
A ripple in the new food system has allowed universities and students around the UK to study the benefits of edible insects. HOP is now leading the way forward with the UK’s first PhD research project in cricket powder protein which is co-supervised by HOP's co-founder, Dr Geoffrey Knott who said “it’s a great milestone….2 years' work in the making to get here.”
Current studies have shown that “one billion people presently experience inadequate protein intake and protein-energy malnutrition, resulting in impaired growth, development, and health.” With this sobering statistic highlighting the inadequacies in our world, it is imperative that alternative protein sources are harnessed in order to combat not only protein deficiencies, but also food insecurities within the growing world's population.
With concerns rising, it is pivotal that new sources must be found in relation to constructing and developing alternative protein sources. In order to do so, PhD research projects within the edible insect industry are underway in multiple universities around the UK.
HOP is conducting a new PhD research project within the sphere of edible insects with one remarkable student, Susan Rudlin, who will be undertaking her studies in September 2022 which will “aim to tackle the challenge of insect-based foods and bridge the knowledge gap between insect protein functionality and consumer acceptance.”
The PhD project is supported by the FoodBioSystems Doctoral Training Partnership at Reading University within the Department of Food and Natural Sciences. The research, in collaboration with Reading and Surrey University, also links “with associate partners EIT Food, the British Nutrition Foundation, the Science and Technology Facilities Council Food Network+, and Diamond Light Source”.
During the PhD project, Susan will investigate “key nutritional and functional properties of edible insects (crickets), which will inform protein-rich model food systems and products that will be evaluated through sensory and consumer acceptability studies” along with “receiving world class training from the University of Reading, University of Surrey and HOP®.
Whilst undertaking her studies, Susan “will gain access to the Food Processing Centre, the Chemical Analysis Facility (CAF), the Sensory Science Centre and the Flavour Centre, where (Susan) will be trained in protein chemistry and structure, flavour chemistry, sensory and consumer methodologies. At the University of Surrey, (Susuan) will be trained in in vitro digestion analyses, mineral analysis and bioavailability using cell line models….A unique collaboration with HOP® will allow (Susan) to gain valuable insights on short and long-term real-world impacts of research to the business by fully experiencing and playing a strong part in the journey of HOP®.”
Susan Rudlin spoke to HOP whilst attending the annual Royal Entomological Society convention at the Natural History Museum. Susan told HOP that she was excited in starting her project and said that “it looks like it’s going to be an interesting topic to research….the (edible insect) products hopefully will come to the supermarket at some point in the future.”
With hopes of edible insects being stocked in the future, a recent study has concurred that “The development of acceptable products containing insect proteins could be achieved with a thorough understanding of consumers’ expectations, needs, sentiments, and drivers of liking for this market niche. Introducing edible-cricket protein as a processed ingredient in a familiar product, such as chocolate brownies, while providing information about the sustainability and health benefits of entomophagy may alleviate consumer reluctance to consume edible insects.” Along with the aims of insect based products in our supermarkets, it is estimated that “The global Edible Insects Market was valued at 464.22 Million USD in 2021 and will grow with a CAGR of 14.26% from 2022 to 2028.”
From these significant findings, Dr Geoffrey Knott said in a recent research publication that “We hope the current findings trigger future research to examine how disgust can be counteracted, and to better understand the role of moral concern in insect consumption.”
Through exceptional research provided by Reading and Surrey university, this unparalleled research on cricket powder will not only allow both HOP and Susan to explore the depths and breadths of entomology and cricket powder but also pave the way forward in establishing a new way of eating that not only benefits our health, but also the ever changing planet and how we, as a whole, can address the challenges of sustainable eating.
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Megido, R.C.; Gierts, C.; Blecker, C.; Brostaux, Y.; Haubruge, É.; Alabi, T.; Francis, F. Consumer acceptance of insect-based alternative meat products in Western countries. Food Qual. Prefer. 2016, 52, 237–243.