A massive cricket processing facility comes online in London, Ontario.


Over the next few days, the first farmed insects will arrive at a massive new cricket processing plant in London, Ontario.

At full capacity, the Aspire Food Group facility is expected to house four billion crickets and produce 13 million kilograms of insects each year in what is believed to be the largest cricket-specific processing facility in the world.

The plant has ambitious goals. The chief executive hopes this will help solve the world’s food insecurity problems.

“Crickets have this incredible ability to convert what they eat into protein biomass,” said Mohammed Ashour, co-founder of Aspire Food Group, which has operated a research and development facility in Austin, Texas for six years.

The plant is built on over 4.8 hectares of land in Innovation Park in London, Ontario, near Veterans Memorial Parkway and Highway 401. (Twitter)

Crickets can produce protein much more efficiently and with a fraction of the amount of food, water and land needed for other protein sources, Ashour said.

Most of what the London plant will produce will supply the pet food market, he said.

“Pets consume, pound for pound, more meat than their owners,” he said. “That’s because every meal every day consists of about 30% meat.”

The London plant currently employs 45 people and hopes to hire another 55 within 12 months.

Insects, an “ancient” food source

Ashour launched his idea of ​​breeding and rearing insects for food in 2013, when he was a medical student at McGill University. He grew up in Montreal and now lives in London.

Along with a handful of his classmates, Ashour’s team won the million-dollar Hult Prize, which challenges young entrepreneurs to find a solution to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

“We have massive growth in both population and appetite for protein, while at the same time we see a significant reduction in arable land and resources to produce food.

Mohammed Ashour, co-founder and CEO of Aspire Food Group, says crickets can produce protein much more efficiently and with a fraction of the amount of food, water and land needed for other protein sources. (Submitted by Aspire Food Group)

“Our longer term vision is to make sure this is a source of protein that can be available and affordable to truly address food insecurity in many countries around the world,” he said. declared.

“I think it’s so exciting that we’re at a point in history where we’re really re-evaluating our food systems in general and exploring new ways to explore protein and more efficient ways to produce protein,” said said Evan Fraser, director. of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

A third of the world’s greenhouse gases come from food, Fraser said.

“Unfortunately, protein farming and animal husbandry is the main contributor to these negative issues.”

According to Fraser, there are one and a half billion cows on the planet.

“This number must come down if we are to meet the needs of the future in a sustainable way.”

Right now, beef still provides the highest dose of protein, Fraser said. But with more research and breeding, there’s no doubt the nutritional value of crickets will soon catch up, he said.

“Insects are widely eaten in many countries around the world,” Ashour said. “In the vast majority of countries around the world, different types of insects are eaten quite avidly.

“We are simply reconnecting one of the world’s oldest food sources to people around the world today, but in a way that is produced on a large scale, at a cost and quality much more appropriate to our diets today. . Production system.”


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