The ASEAN Food and Feed Insects Association, which will represent insect food manufacturers in Southeast Asia, hopes to make an impact on both public awareness and industry standards. One of its cofounders says the group’s agenda may be an easier sell in that part of the world.
The edible bug industry is looking for some fresh bites.
Last year, the U.S.-based North American Edible Insects Coalition took steps to get itself off the ground, launching its first annual meeting. Meanwhile, other groups like Little Herds have also tried to stake a claim on this market in the United States. In Europe, there are at least three organizations promoting the concept of edible insects.
The newest addition to the list? The ASEAN Food and Feed Insects Association (AFFIA), which launched in August. (ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations.)
In an article for Food Navigator, Massimo Reverberi, whose Thailand-based company Bugsolutely is among AFFIA’s founding members, noted that Southeast Asia is a stronger market for insect-based food products than other parts of the world, but the organization still faces a bit of an uphill battle.
While messaging and public education will be a priority, AFFIA will put a strong focus on building up guidelines and best practices for an industry with little oversight or standardization, Reverberi said:
The Southeast Asian tradition of farming and eating insects goes way back in time, but is not codified in legislation, nor even in best practices. There is still no [good agricultural practices] manual for farming crickets, nor a [harmonized system] code for insects within the World Custom Organisation. The [Food and Agriculture Organization’s] Codex Alimentarius does not mention bugs as food, although a few years ago Laos proposed introducing new standards for them.
AFFIA hopes to build a knowledge base for new members to help them get started, “because there is little publicly available information on how to farm, process, and export insects,” he said.
Beyond Bugsolutely, which produces pasta from cricket flour, other founding members include Smile Bull Marketing, Entofood, Entobel, and Eawag.