Insect food

Insect food refers to food products that can replace traditional meat as a source of protein and are less resource-intensive and harmful to the climate. In practice, for example grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms and other insect larvae are processed.


Aim and innovation

Different motives are pursued with the production of insects as an alternative protein source. These include increasing sustainability[1] by reducing resource consumption, promoting regional sources of protein[2], reducing climate-damaging greenhouse gases and reducing water consumption[3]. Insects have a very high protein content and provide important nutrients such as iron or magnesium, while they require only a fraction of the resources (land, feed and water) needed for conventional animal husbandry.[4] Moreover, greenhouse gas emissions are significantly lower than those of conventional meat production: Compared to pig farming, mealworms produce ten to a hundred times less climate-damaging gases per kilogram of body mass"[5]. Their resource efficiency also makes insects interesting as feed for conventional meat and fish production (→Alternative protein feeds).



Kriquet[9], Wurmfarm - Austria[10], ZIRP[11], SENS[12], , Griidy[13], Savonia Grasshopper[14], micronutris[15], Insectarium[16]



production, trade, consumption



food producers, consumers, gastronomy, food retail

Development and current dynamics:

At the latest with the new EU regulation, a new dynamic has also emerged in Europe. Research, product innovations and gastronomy offers in the field of insect food can be observed in many European countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and France. Thereby insects are often added as a processed ingredient - for example in the form of flour products.


Sustainability potential


  • soil
  • water
  • climate
  • air
  • resource efficiency in production and consumption


  • strengthening of regional economic cycles
  • increase of food security


  • health: Access to healthy food

Risks / disadvantages

Insect food is particularly problematic from an ethical point of view. Even if there is no evidence of the ability of insects to feel pain[17], insect food is used to keep and kill considerably more living beings than is necessary to produce comparable quantities of classic meat. The standards which will be valid for insect breeding with regard to animal welfare are yet to be negotiated[18].

Due to strict food safety standards, it is currently not permitted in the EU to recycle organic residues, former food or catering returns for feeding insects. If these conditions were to change in the coming years, this could have a positive effect on a closed nutrient cycle and the overall environmental balance.[19]

Insect food can also pose a risk, if its production is located abroad. In those countries, higher demand and price increases resulting from Western consumption can attack local markets and impair the traditional diet of the local population[20]. In addition, the production abroad can be accompanied by the common issues such as the exploitation of workers, land grabbing and an increased resource use due to the transport.

[1] Sensbar (2018): Why Crickets? SENS Cricket Flour Bars. https://www.sensbar.com/en/why-crickets (20.02.2020); ZIRP Insects. (n.d.): Wieso Insekten essen? https://www.zirpinsects.com/wieso-insekten/ (20.02.2020)

[2] Die Wurmfarm (2019): Mehlwurmzucht in Österreich. https://www.diewurmfarm.at/ (20.02.2020)

[3] Kriket Blog (n.d.): Crickets. https://kriket.be/crickets (20.02.2020)

[4] Rempe, C. (2014): Hui oder pfui: Insekten in der menschlichen Ernährung. Ernährung im Fokus 14(07-08), pp.198–202

[5] ibid.

[6] Smith, R. & Barnes, E. (2015): PROteINSECT Consensus Business Case Report ‘Determining the contribution that insects can make to addressing the protein deficit in Europe’. Minerva Health & Care Communications Ltd. http://www.proteinsect.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/deliverables/PROteINSECT_CBC_FINALv1.pdf p. 16ff.

[7] Novel Food Regulation (EU) 2015/2283

[8] Van Huis, A. et al. (2013): Edible Insects: Future Prospect for Food and Feed Security. FAO, Rome. p. 35.

[9] Kriket (n.d.). https://kriket.be/ (20.02.2020)

[10] Die Wurmfarm (2019): Mehlwurmzucht in Österreich. https://www.diewurmfarm.at/ (20.02.2020)

[11] ZIRP Insects (n.d.): Insekten, die schmecken. https://www.zirpinsects.com/ (20.02.2020)

[12] SENS (2018). https://www.sensbar.com/en/ (20.02.2020)

[13] Griidy (2018). Let’s get Greedy! https://griidy.com/ (20.02.2020)

[14] Sirkkoja (n.d.).  https://sirkkoja.fi/ (20.02.2020)

[15] Micronutris (n.d.): Les insectes comestibles de qualité biologique.  https://www.micronutris.com/fr/accueil (20.02.2020)

[16] Insekterei (2019): Insekterei—Die erste Grillenfarm der Schweiz: Klimaschutz mit Biss. https://insekterei.ch/ (20.02.2020)

[17] Erens, J. et al. (2012): A bug's life: Large-scale insect rearing in relation to animal welfare. Wageningen University. p. 37.

[18] ibid, p. 51.

[19] German Environment Agency et al. (2019): Trendanalyse „Fleisch der Zukunft“. Umweltpolitische Handlungsoptionen für die Gestaltung von pflanzenbasierten, insektenbasierten und In-vitro produzierten Fleischersatzprodukten. Inputpapier für den Expertenworkshop „Fleisch der Zukunft“ am 17.9.2019 in Berlin. 27. September 2019. p.13.

[20] Müller, A. (2018): Insekten essen, um den Kapitalismus zu retten? https://www.ernaehrungswandel.org/informieren/artikel/detail/insekten-essen-um-den-kapitalismus-zu-retten (20.02.2020)