The world is evolving, mainly the human population, which according to the United Nations (UN) -it is expected that, by the year 2050, it will grow up to 9.6 billion. Therefore, there is an expectation of a per capita demand for proteins, which requires doubling the production of them and food by 60% of current levels.
For specialists, the option to handle this problem would be the industrialization of edible insects. It is worth noting that the human population increases by about 70 million people each year worldwide.
Exploring other food sources
Apparently, insects would offer a very promising alternative, they (the insects), can be cultivated using less resources such as land, water, energy, among others. They can provide more protein and contribute less to climate change and lower levels of pollutants such as ammonia.
Experts report that it seems impossible to rely on strategies that include the production of livestock to feed the human population in a few years, so the subject of the industrialization of edible insects is in constant conversation and research.
Towards an industrial future
Around the world, insect breeding is still manual. The large-scale production of cricket, mealworms and wax worms, as well as for some biocontrol species (particularly flies), has existed in the United States and Europe. Some of these industries are forming the basis for the emerging insect-based food industry.
Currently, some industrial companies are in various stages of development for the cultivation of insects. For large-scale production, critical elements are required that include research on insect biology, suitable breeding conditions and diet formulas. Current agricultural systems need the automation of some key processes to be economically competitive with the production of livestock meat.
In Costa Rica Insect Company, is the 1st company that industrializes the business of edible insects in Central America, Alejandro Ortega, Co-Founder and CEO at Costa Rica Insect Company (CRIC), an exclusive conversation with The Costa Rica News on this subject of the company and its purpose.
Who is Alejandro Ortega?
Alejandro Ortega is a marketing expert, a former scholarship holder of the US Department of State, with the focus on business communication and entrepreneurship has always considered, that the way in which we can change the world, is from the seeds of our society, “and to empower these sectors we must do it through entrepreneurship”.
He commented that after meeting his girlfriend, Daniela Arias, who is a nutritionist graduated from the University of Costa Rica, “after a class on edible insects that she was studying and then several examples internationally, even in the Shark Tank program, I asked her: -Why do not we try to make our own insect farm? And that was how we started 2 years ago to know a little more about the subject, and last October (2018), we decided to found the Costa Rica Insect Company”.
Since 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), together with the Dutch Public University of Wageningen, published a very comprehensive study on the potential of insects for food and environmental sustainability. “After Daniela took the course of edible insects, we knew that they really are part of the solution to the problem that the world is facing. To expand a little more, most insects have an excellent nutritional value for humans using significantly less natural resources than other animals, they are a source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals”.
Regarding the environmental impact of insects … Alejandro, as a great entrepreneur, says that to produce the same amount of protein as meat, for example, “you need up to 2000 times less water, 25 times less space, 12 times less food and insects emit 100 times less greenhouse gases, all aspects that are extremely beneficial for the environment. In Costa Rica, we have the advantage that the country complies with the ideal atmospheric conditions for the breeding and reproduction of insects”.
The “Costa Rica Insect Company”: its goal and achievements
For Alejandro Ortega, his company has the main objective of creating products based on insects, as an alternative solution for food shortages, as well as providing a solution with high nutritional and healthy value for malnutrition.
In addition, it seeks an integral solution, encompassing sustainability, health and socio-economic level, which is why I believe with his girlfriend, a program of insect-producing partners, made up of farmers, women and families in rural areas of Costa Rica, who They are focused on generating income towards the areas most in need and raising awareness about the consumption of insects.
“Our plan is to start exports in June 2019, our main markets are Europe, the United States and Mexico. So far we have participated in several business competitions, where we were nominated to compete for a position as representatives of Central America in the -Future Agro Challenge-, and after participating we won the quota, which will help us to attend the competition in Thessaloniki, Greece between September 7th and 11th, 2019. We are active members of Holland House Costa Rica, which is opening doors to facilitate exports. Currently, we are looking for investment to expand our horizons and increase our production capacity”, said Ortega.
The reality of the food industry as told by Alejandro Ortega
It is no longer a secret that, for Alejandro Co-Founder and CEO at Costa Rica Insect Company (CRIC), the primordial focus should be the awareness of insects as the most feasible solution for today and for the future as they were in the start of our species.
He wanted to tell us the story of the reality of the food industry: “We really do not know what big companies have put on our plate for more than 40 years, and that most of them do not really care. The good news is that there is a growing tendency towards the awakening of consumers and their curiosity to know what they are consuming, where it comes from and how healthy and sustainable that food is.
However, even though it is the most rational, sustainable and healthy solution, there is still the cultural factor, where eating insects is not well received in westernized countries as there are many in Latin America, even though our Incas, Mayas and Aztecs ancestors consumed them regularly. Explained this situation, we from Costa Rica Insect Company, we provide products that do not require changing the behavior of people, but we seek to change the raw materials for the products we consume regularly, that is, we create a mixture to make bread that is based of cricket powder, with which bread becomes a nutritious product, and so we do with many others.
Our approach is to give the consumer what he wants, but in a healthy way for both people and the planet. “
Finally, the founder of Cric emphasized the activities carried out within the Central American country, which is aimed at the breeding and processing of insects. In the upcoming days, they will be launching their products in Costa Rica, hoping that before the end of this year they can also do so in the other countries.