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August 2022 Newsletter

On August 10th, Woven submitted a collective response document to the FSA.

This consultation was a vital opportunity for Woven and its members to set out the case for edible insects and to collectively contribute towards the transition arrangement. Woven hosted a full members meeting on August 10th to hear from our members and directors. Recently, we have been receiving support towards a membership restructuring and what this may look like for you, provided by a Sheffield Social Enterprise Business Leader. In the meantime, Woven will be in collaboration with our members to discuss the Woven 'vision' in order to create a clear and detailed pictures of where we aim to progress in the months ahead. With progression on the horizon, Woven will be re-launching as UKEIA (UK Edible Insect Association) in the coming months with a new website, which will correlate nicely to celebrate World Edible Insect Day on October 23rd. With this strategic planning in place, we are now looking forward to the months ahead where Woven will be working closely with the FSA to create clarity for businesses wishing to trade edible insect products in Great Britain.

The Woven Board met on 2 September with a focus on how to make the organisation more financially sustainable.

Woven has been supported and advised by Alex Swallow through the Sheffield Social Enterprise Exchange programme. Based on his advice, the Board agreed that:

- Aaron Thomas, Yum Bug, will take on the role of Chair of the Board. - Nick Rousseau and the team are going to gather the views of our members in moving toward a tiered model. In doing so, we hope it will generate additional funds for Woven and if the response is positive, we will adopt it ASAP and convert members onto the new system. Beyond that, will depend on what resources that gives. - The next priority is to focus on improving the regulation situation. - The terms on which Unconventional Connections are engaged to work on Woven business would move to hourly rates for time spent. - The absolute priority for the month of September should be to speak to all our members regarding a new Tiered membership model. The aim is to test the model and establish how much revenue from membership fees we could generate if we immediately adopted it. - The next priority is to focus on the Novel Food Regulations, hopefully with the support of University of Sheffield, and to identify and implement initiatives that will generate further income to sustain Woven. Overall, there is a lot going on behind the scenes within the Woven management team and we look forward to the months ahead.

Iuliana Tosh, Newsletter Editor

Tenebrio Molitor dossier

Dr Geoffrey Knott (HOP®) and his UK scientific partners have been supporting our friends in Europe (BiiF) with two of their ongoing Novel Food applications for the past few months, acheta domesticus and tenebrio molitor, which they resubmitted in early July. They have received positive feedback from EFSA, and given the scale of improvements (i.e. approximately doubled the amount of lab data in the dossier) the latest news is that they have a follow-up call with the Novel Food team who are managing the BiiF tenebrio application on Friday 2nd September to discuss additional scientific questions.


Recent articles

A recent article by Footprint highlighted the importance of the current transitional measures in place by the FSA to allow edible insects on the market whilst novel food regulations authorisation continues..

"FSA research shows that consumers in the UK have an increased interest and demand for healthy, sustainable diets, with a focus on meat alternatives. Over a quarter (26%) of UK consumers would be willing to try eating edible insects – and environmental concerns or sustainability are the most common reasons." Image taken from Everyday health

In an exciting article by BBC news, it highlighted the environmental and nutritional benefits of edible insects and how we too need to change our perception. The article explained that "replacing half of the meat eaten worldwide with mealworms and crickets could reduce farmland use by a third, freeing up 1,680 million hectares, equivalent to around 70 times the area of the UK, and reducing global emissions, according to a study by Alexander and other researchers at the University of Edinburgh."

With insects revolutionising the food market, a recent Guardian article found that "mealworms, the larval form of the yellow mealworm beetle, have been cooked with sugar by researchers who found that the result is a meat-like flavoring that could one day be used on convenience food as a source of protein."

Recent research has shows "the use of mealworms as a meat-like flavoring may help bridge this gap, researchers hope. The new study, which will be presented to the American Chemical Society this week, found that the flavors were released when mealworms were heated with sugars, with the proteins and sugars interacting and caramelizing in a range of meat-like and savory flavors...Different cooking processes produced different results, the researchers found. Steamed mealworms give off a sort of sweetcorn-like aroma, while roasted and deep-fried versions have more of a similarity with shrimp."

Rejoice! People in the UK Can Finally Eat Insects Again - Vice UK

A new article by Vice highlighted the positive impact of introducing edible insects back in the UK market after the delay caused by Brexit. Vice spoke with Woven director, Nick Rousseau in highlighting what the edible insect industry has faced in recent years and what new opportunities lay ahead.

"Nick Rousseau, founder of the Woven Network that represents the edible insects industry in the UK, said that legal clarity needs to be emphasised so that companies can get insurance again – but that ultimately it’s the novel foods regulation that will inhibit British edible insect makers. “Insects have been proven to be entirely sound and safe,” he said. “Before 2018, edible insects weren’t recognised as novel foods, there was no restriction ontheir use – they were just a food as long as people followed the right practices and were professional....

Rousseau added that the UK is now behind European competitors despite having a high concentration of producers and innovation here. “Half a dozen large operations scaled up and got investment in Europe - we’ve not been able to do that at this stage....Insurance difficulties and expensive dossiers aside, the green light from the Food Standards Agency now means that six insect species are back on the table in the UK because they are included in the EU transition agreement: lesser mealworm, house cricket, yellow mealworm, banded or decorated cricket, migratory locust and black soldier fly....Our potential to be a European leader has taken a knocking but I think we’re the ones who are the most innovative,”

Rousseau said. “We’ve got quite a cosmopolitan market and people are open to new experiences and food compared to lots of traditional countries in Europe. We’ve got a great market for this kind of thing.”

Incorporation of novel foods in European diets can reduce global warming potential, water use and land use by over 80%

A recent study by Nature Food has examined the use of edible insects in reducing the environmental impacts of the food industry, whilst also providing nutritional benefits.

The main elements in the article include:

"The findings also indicate that by adjusting CDs and/ or including NFFs (Novel Foods) and even small amounts of selected ASFs, it is possible to reduce environmental impacts to similar levels as optimized VEG diets. The selection of mainly insect meal, cultured milk, microbial protein and mycoprotein by the optimization indicates that these NFF products have the best balance of trade-offs between nutritional content and environmental impacts given the current data."

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