• Edible insects may one day become a staple of the modern Australian diet (Image: Dr Bryan Lessard).
    Edible insects may one day become a staple of the modern Australian diet (Image: Dr Bryan Lessard).
  • At least 16 species of insects are traditionally eaten by First Nations Peoples in Australia, including the iconic Witjuti grub. (Image: Tobias Titz).
    At least 16 species of insects are traditionally eaten by First Nations Peoples in Australia, including the iconic Witjuti grub. (Image: Tobias Titz).
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The CSIRO has worked with government to launch the first roadmap for Australia’s edible insect industry. The report discusses Australia's potential as a leader in the global edible insect industry, expected to reach $1.4 billion in value by 2023.

The Edible insects: A roadmap for the strategic growth of an emerging Australian industry report was launched this week, co-funded by the CSIRO - Australia's national science agency - and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR).

It features a comprehensive plan for the industry, as well as cultural values, sustainability and health benefits for Australians, both as consumers and producers. 

The roadmap provides a framework for First Nations initiatives, start-ups, insect businesses, researchers, policy makers, and community members interested in engaging with the industry.

CSIRO entomologist and report co-author Dr Bryan Lessard said the report showcased the importance of supporting and promoting First Nations-led enterprises.

“The roadmap draws on the expertise of Australian and international scientists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, insect farmers, food processing industry leaders and chefs, to set out the challenges and opportunities presented by one of the world's richest sources of protein and other micronutrients,” Lessard said.

“Commercial insect farming is considered to have a low environmental footprint, requiring minimal feed, water, energy, and land resources – factors of importance to the modern health and ethically-conscious consumer.

According to the CSIRO, around 2,100 inspect species are eaten by two billion people from 130 countries.

At least 16 species of insects are traditionally eaten by First Nations Peoples in Australia, including the iconic Witjuti grub. (Image: Tobias Titz).
At least 16 species of insects are traditionally eaten by First Nations Peoples in Australia, including the iconic Witjuti grub. (Image: Tobias Titz).

This includes 60 native insect species traditionally consumed by First Nations Peoples in Australia, including witjuti (witchetty) grubs, bogong moths, honey pot ants and green tree ants.

The roadmap further adds to the CSIRO’s broader research in finding alternative protein resources, through its Future Protein Mission initiative.

CSIRO Future Protein lead professor Michelle Colgrave said the team was focused on helping Australia capture high-growth global protein markets to develop Australia's protein industry by $10 billion over five years, in line with the Australian Government's goal to lift farmgate output to $100 billion by 2030.

“With the global population set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, we will need to meet this demand for sustainable protein production by exploring diversified sources,” Colgrave said.

“Alternative protein industries can play an important role in Australia, contributing to regional and national prosperity. At CSIRO, we're researching plant-based protein, traditional protein sources, and emerging protein industries including edible insects.”

This includes 60 native insect species traditionally consumed by First Nations Peoples in Australia, including witjuti (witchetty) grubs, bogong moths, honey pot ants and green tree ants.

The Edible insects: A roadmap for the strategic growth of an emerging Australian industry report is available in English and Spanish.

It aims to foster connections between Australia and Latin America, such as Mexico, where eating insects is more widespread. The report further provides guidance for Spanish-speaking countries on how to develop their local industries.

It can be accessed here.

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