Swiss supermarket to start selling bug burgers

Swiss supermarket giant Coop will sell products containing insects, such as burgers and meatballs, from next spring, it has confirmed.

Swiss supermarket to start selling bug burgers
Cricket burger anyone? Photo: Coop

Up until now Swiss law specified that unusual foodstuffs such as insect-based products could not be sold without special authorization, but on Friday the federal food safety office (BLV) said it was simplifying the system. From May 1st 2017 any food product can be sold commercially as long as it respects food safety regulations.

Coop was quick to respond, saying it would be putting insect-based products on its shelves from next spring.

In a statement, the supermarket behemoth said it was working with Swiss startup Essento, which specializes in developing insect-based dishes, to create a range of “surprising” products containing insect proteins, including meatballs and burgers.

“The secret of our success  is due to our capacity to identify trends and innovate,” said Coop spokesman Roland Frefel.

Adding certain varieties of insects to processed products would allow customers to “discover a new world of flavours,” he added.

Insects are as rich in protein as meat and fish and contain essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids, however they remain an uncommon foodstuff in the Western world.

But that is changing as the world considers new ways to feed a population estimated to grow to nine billion by 2050. According to Fortune magazine, more than 25 startups offering bug products have launched in the US and Canada in the past few years.

A sustainable and ecological food source, insects emit less greenhouse gas and ammonia than conventional livestock, according to the Food and Agriculture Office of the United Nations.

They are also delicious, said Coop, pointing out that crickets taste a bit like chicken and weevils have a nutty flavour.

It remains to be seen if Swiss consumers will agree…

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Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets

Insects could be legally for sale in Swiss supermarkets starting next year after the federal food safety and veterinary office (BLV) proposed the commercialization of three species.

Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets
Photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

The BLV on Monday backed the sale of crickets, grasshoppers and meal worms as part of a planned revision of Switzerland’s law governing foodstuff, the ATS news agency reported.

A consultation period on the proposal runs until October.

The BLV has limited the kind of approved insects to the three best known types, ATS said.

They are already authorized in small-scale pilot trials, such as during museum nights.

Last year the federal government had promised an opening up of insect sales after Green Liberal MP Isabelle Chevalley, from the canton of Vaud, organized a tasting event for fellow parliamentarians with food made from insects.

The menu included burgers made from a base of mealworms, rissoles made with crickets, small chocolate biscuits made from grasshopper and lemon cake made from meal worms.

The feedback was largely positive.

In the European Union, edible insects have not been officially recognized, although stores in some EU countries, such as Holland and Belgium have been selling them.