The Trudeau government is recruiting small-to-medium-sized companies specializing in insect and alternative proteins meant for human consumption to a UK conference exploring the future of food technology.

In partnership with Protein Industries Canada, the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada  Research Assistance Program is calling on enterprises to submit expressions of interest to attend the Sept. 25-29, 2023 Future Food-Tech summit.

“The program will include pitch sessions and (business to business) meetings with selected top-tier UK SMEs focused on alternative proteins,” wrote Protein Industries Canada. 

“For the purpose of this mission, alternative proteins will include firms leveraging plant-based, cellular agriculture, insect and fermentation technologies.”

The Future Food-Tech summit will bring together over 800 business leaders for the purpose of “creating foods that are nutritious, accessible, and climate-smart.” 

“Enjoy a future-focused programme, with thought-provoking discussions and exciting pitches on the latest innovations in improving health through food, elevating the performance and nutritional profile of alternative proteins, and meeting consumer demand for affordable foods whilst reducing carbon footprint throughout the supply chain,” the summit’s about page states. 

Insect-based proteins derived from crickets and larvae of the common mealworm have been floated by climate change advocates as a potential substitute for meat-based diets.

“Companies selected to participate in the partnering mission will receive up to $5,000 in funding support towards eligible expenses, including travel and participation related costs,” NRC spokesperson Orian Labrèche told True North.

“This partnering mission is focused on connecting Canadian SMEs to United Kingdom corporations looking to develop alternative protein technologies with the aim of forming collaborative research and development (R&D) partnerships that lead to co-innovation projects. Through this support, Canadian businesses will be better equipped to build their innovation capacity, successfully commercialize their technology and become more competitive in the global marketplace.”

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is among the organizations that have been pushing insect-based proteins as a meat substitute . The idea has also been promoted at the UN Food Summit as well as COP26. 

According to the WEF, farming insects “for food and animal feed could offer an environmentally friendly solution to the impending food crisis.

“Insects are a credible and efficient alternative protein source requiring fewer resources than conventional breeding,” a WEF blog post states. 

Insect farming for foodstuffs is not new in Canada. As reported by True North in March, Aspire Food Group’s world-scale London, Ontario cricket-breeding facility is already producing insect-based pet food and wants to open a second facility with the possibility of branching out into creating products for human consumption. 

“Crickets are the insects with the most traction from a consumer standpoint and they’re also lower in fat than mealworms or black soldier fly larvae, so you don’t have to de-fat them and the powder has a 24-month stable shelf life,” explained Aspire Food Group co founder Mohammed Ashour.

“On the human food side, the low hanging fruit is in Asia and parts of Europe, but for petfood we’re seeing excitement across the board.”