Last week I participated at the IPIFF International Workshop – ‘Unleashing the Circularity Potential of the European Insect Sector through Research and Innovation’ in Brussels.
The European insect sector - a new agricultural industry that is gradually growing into a reputable actor in terms of products’ quality and sustainability - has the potential to become an important player, but also a strategic link of the EU’s food and feed chains. Notably, insects have been recognised for their role in complementing both humans’ and animals’ diets - with an enormous potential to improve the circularity of the agri-food nexus.
Organised in a multistakeholder approach, the two sessions of the Workshop entitled ‘Unleashing the Circularity Potential of the European Insect Sector through Research and Innovation’ brought together experts from numerous fields - such as investment research, aquaculture, poultry and pig farming, food and feed industries and policymakers, as well as more than 130 actors active in the insect production value chains. One of the roundtables entitled “Exploring the nutritional and health benefits of using insects for food and feed’” was moderated by Prof Stefano Sforza from the University of Parma.
The workshop was organized by the IPIFF General Assembly, the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) - the Brussels-based umbrella organisation representing stakeholders active across the insect production value chains - reiterated the importance of synergetic research initiatives, developed in harmony with the regulatory calendar of the sector and markets’ needs.
The workshop also included the possibility of bringing a poster with the main results of each research group. The research group of the University of Parma included Stefano Sforza and Augusta Caligiani (Food Chemistry), Camilla Lazzi (Food Microbiology), Giovanni Sogari (Food Economics), Lucia participated. Scaffardi (Agri-Food Legislation). In fact, in the last five years, the University of Parma (UNIPR) has been particularly active in the field of edible insects in an interdisciplinary context. This work is intended as an overview presenting the different expertise and studies developed at UNIPR, all connected to the research priorities listed in the IPIFF Contribution Paper.
In particular the Food Economics group has conducted many behavioural studies contributing to better understand whether Western consumers are ready to adopt insects and insect-based food products; the group has recently edited a book entitled ‘Edible Insects in the Food Sector’ (Springer, 2019).