|Monday, November 23|
From Research to Economics: Potential Paths Forward in the Insects as Food and Feed Industry
* Jeffery K. Tomberlin, Texas A&M University, United States
Research drives economic opportunity. While such a statement may be viewed as a disconnect due to results generated from research translating into applications often being delayed. Given the insects as food and feed sector is relatively in its infancy, opportunities exist to set the stage for more efficient and timely translation of such mechanisms into relevant actions. Developing such a concept relies on four factors, which will be discussed, 1) continued efforts on basic research, 2) scale, 3) economics, and 4) development of a global economic model to project futures as related to production. Translating results across scale is not linear in most cases, which can lead to inaccuracies as related to economic-related projections. Therefore, conducting studies across different scales (e.g., experiment design as related to pan size, replicates, location, season) are crucial for understanding intra- and inter-facility (i.e., company) variation. By understanding and regulating the variation associated with production, a potential commodity group could evolve that projects futures on the production of select insects as food and feed- similar to other commodity groups, such as wheat or maize. However, efforts to bolster the industry as a commodity will need to be linked with other disciplines, such as economics, so the calculus for estimating the futures as related to production, quality, and value and be reliably determined. In the end, each of these paths is reliant on continued efforts to understand the basic nature of each insect being mass produced. Therefore, the likelihood of expansion, diversification, and solidified establishment of the insects as food and feed industry is reliant on continued research efforts to understand the why and how research questions.