Edible Insects and the Future of Food

For the past two years Alun has been advising Institute of Development Studies (IDS) researchers on the use of strategic foresight tools and methods as part of their Tomorrow Today horizon scanning programme.

You can find their all their publications online but we thought we share one of our favourites with you. The report, “Edible Insects and the Future of Food: A Foresight Scenario Exercise on Entomophagy and Global Food Security” by Dominic Glover and Alexandra Sexton, used scenario planning to consider the potential contributions of edible insects in the future global food system.

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You can read the full report and scenarios online here or get a sense of the event in their storify.

They produced four scenarios centered around 2 critical uncertainties: resource scarcity (intensified vs eased) and economic power (concentrated vs distributed) that generated some interesting insights.

In all scenarios they saw a plausible future for an industry to emerge around edible insect in food or feedstock. The nature of the industry varied, however, with insects ranging from ‘fine foods’ to ‘mass-produced protein’ – replacing livestock completely, or as an economical/sustainable alternative. While the production scale varied from a personalized industry, to community-organized or hobby.

The nature of the industry was driven by differing economic and social conditions, as well as values with different outcomes depending on whether rejection of traditional livestock was due to ethical or health concerns or due to resource constraints and climate change.

Along the way, they discuss barriers and drivers for a future industry including economic barriers, regulation and public perception, as well as how shocks could make entomophagy more economical and competitive.