Insects for lunch? Report highlights future protein possibilities

Un-bee-lievable: A CSIRO report has flagged edible insects as playing a part in providing other proteins to feed a growing population. Photo by Geoff Adams

Cultivated meat and edible insects could play a part in Australia's plan to become "a global delicatessen" by developing high-quality protein products to feed the world's growing population.

The national science agency wants to make Australia a world leader in the development of new protein products to capture a share of the $13 billion market for all types of protein.

A CSIRO report, Protein: A roadmap for unlocking technology-led growth opportunities for Australia, was released on Tuesday, March 22, outlining how Australia could create up to 10,000 jobs and become an industry leader.

With an expected two billion extra people on the planet to feed by 2050, along with changing tastes and dietary preferences, the world is going to need to produce more protein, more sustainably and from more sources.

Growth opportunities include developing new plant-based products, turning lesser cuts of red meat into value-added protein powders and nutraceuticals, and developing higher-protein and better-tasting legume crops.

A fish dish: A new report exploring protein alternatives suggests more sustainable white fish industries and turning lesser cuts of red meat into value-added protein powders and nutraceuticals.

A new sustainable industry in white-flesh fish could be developed, while non-traditional forms of protein such as cultivated meat and edible insects could also be on the menu.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall says Australia's global reputation in agriculture and food presented a golden opportunity for growth.

“As protein demand grows and new consumer trends emerge, solutions from science can help create new markets and complement our existing, globally competitive traditional markets,” he said.

“This will help shift Australia's reputation from being the world's food bowl of commodities to becoming a global delicatessen of unique higher value exports.

“We can supercharge growth in our traditional protein industries by harnessing technologies like digital traceability and integrity systems that enhance the premium status of Australian red meat, and grow new complementary protein markets through techniques like precision fermentation to generate a suite of new Australian products.

“The roadmap highlights how protein demand can only be met by bringing together animal, plant and non-traditional protein production systems.“