Aldi considers selling edible INSECTS to help families through the cost-of-living crisis

  • Aldi is considering introducing a line of edible insect recipe kits in its UK stores
  • The cost of Living Crisis has prompted the supermarket to look at new foods
  • Channel 4 running ‘Aldi’s Next Big Thing’ which will hear from bug farmers 
  • Aaron Thomas and Leo Taylor hope their ‘Yum Bug’ products will be successful

Budget supermarket Aldi is considering selling edible insect recipe kits as the cost of living crisis hits families.

Bugs such as crickets are known to be a cheap and sustainable form of protein.

Now Aldi is weighing up whether to stock products by Yum Bug, which make the insect recipe kits.

Yum Bug founders Aaron Thomas and Leo Taylor, both 28, are competing against other start-ups to get their product on the supermarket’s shelves.

The duo were picked from hundreds of applicant’s to appear on Channel 4’s ‘Aldi’s Next Big Thing’ tomorrow.

Hosted by Anita Rani, of Countryfile and BBC Radio 4 and Chris Bavin, of Britain’s Best Home Cook and Eat Well for Less, the six-part TV series sees suppliers compete in categories such as dinners, baked goods, treats and store cupboard essentials.

Products are presented to Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, who deliberates on factors such as price, packaging, shopper demand, and the ability to scale up, before whittling contestants down to just two.

The finalists are then given four weeks to address any feedback, before presenting improved products to Julie who decides which product will appear as a Specialbuy in over 970 stores.

Mr Thomas, from Islington, London, said: ‘We’re on a mission to change perceptions of insects as food; they’re one of the most sustainable protein sources in the world.

‘Crickets are up to 70 per cent protein, which is three times the amount of protein found in beef. They’ve also got more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and the list keeps going. They are an incredible superfood.

‘We want to take bug consumption mainstream. If we’re able to get in front of Aldi’s audience, that would be an amazing opportunity.’

Mr Taylor said: ‘Aaron and I have been cooking with insects for years – it started in 2017 with weekends experimenting out of my parents’ garage, cooking up all sorts of recipes and posting content online.

‘We then sold our first insect recipe boxes out of our bedrooms in lockdown, and that’s really where everything snowballed.’

Aldi says the competition is part of its commitment to locally sourced products. It has pledged to prioritise home-grown suppliers as it works towards spending an additional £3.5 billion a year with British businesses by the end of 2025.

They said the competition was not specifically targeting the cost of living crisis.

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Chemical signal for locust swarming identified in step toward curbing plagues

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have identified a chemical compound released by locusts that causes them to swarm, opening the door to possible new ways to prevent these insects from devouring crops vital to human sustenance as they have for millennia.

Researchers said on Wednesday they identified the pheromone – a chemical produced by an animal that affects the behavior of others of its own species – in the world’s most widespread locust species, the migratory locust, or Locusta migratoria.

Called 4-vinylanisole (4VA), it is primarily released from the hind legs and is detected by the antennae of other locusts and sensed by odorant receptors, the researchers said.

4VA powerfully attracted locusts regardless of age or sex, the research published in the journal Nature showed. Its production was triggered in the insects when as few as four to five solitary locusts came together, precipitating swarming behavior.

“In human history, locust plagues, drought and flood were considered as three major natural disasters which caused serious agricultural and economic losses all over the world,” said research leader Le Kang, a professor of entomology and ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Zoology.

“As the most widely distributed and one of the most dangerous locust species, the migratory locust represents a serious threat to agriculture worldwide,” Kang added.

Swarms can include billions of locusts and span hundreds of square miles (km) as the insects voraciously consume crops, imperiling food security. Migratory locusts inhabit Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, attacking pastures and critical crops such as wheat, rice, corn, millet, barley, oats, sugarcane and sorghum.

Kang said further research is needed on whether 4VA exists in other locust species such as the desert locust, called Schistocerca gregaria, that currently is ravaging parts of Africa and the Middle East.

The chemical insecticides currently used to suppress locust outbreaks raise concerns about human health and safety. The identification of 4VA could inspire new methods.

A chemical could be developed to block 4VA’s effects to prevent swarming, Kang said, or a synthetic version could lure locusts into traps to be killed. Locusts genetically modified not to respond to 4VA could be developed and released to establish wild non-swarming populations, “subject to biosecurity evaluation,” Kang added.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Armyworm hits northern Cameroon, worsening food crisis

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Crop-eating fall armyworms have attacked nearly 37,000 hectares of maize in northern Cameroon, officials said on Wednesday, accentuating an already dire humanitarian crisis provoked by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram’s cross-border insurgency.

More than two dozen African nations have reported outbreaks of the invasive Central American variety of the pest, which is harder to detect and eradicate than its African counterpart.

They have now spread to all of Cameroon’s 10 administrative regions, though maize crops in the Extreme North region have only been heavily affected since July, Deputy Agriculture Minister Clementine Ananga Messina told Reuters.

“The armyworm attack endangers the entire maize sector and is creating serious risks of food insecurity, because it’s the most commonly grown cereal in Cameroon,” she said.

The Extreme North region bordering Chad and Nigeria has been hit hard by Boko Haram, whose campaign of violence and cross-border attacks has sent more than 93,000 Nigerians fleeing into Cameroon where some 235,000 people have also been displaced.

Across the Lake Chad region around 1.5 million people are confronting a food crisis, according to the United Nations.

Cameroonian authorities have launched an action plan to fight against the infestation, but so far pesticides have failed to contain it.

“There are no effective means to fight armyworm currently existing in Cameroon,” said Agriculture Ministry expert Andre Marie Elombat Assoua. “The chemical products now being used by farmers are ineffective and too expensive.”

Around 12 million Cameroonians, more than half of the national population, regularly consume maize. It is also an important ingredient for the central African nation’s breweries and in the production of feed for livestock.

Though the fall armyworm prefers maize, it also attacked sorghum and millet, two of Cameroon’s other staple crops, earlier this year.

(Reporting by Anne-Mireille Nzouankeu; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Alison Williams)

Tarrant County Texas Swarmed With Insects

Tiny black insects have taken over parts of Tarrant County, Texas leaving residents wondering where they came from and when they will leave.

The bugs, called hackberry nipple-gall makers, are looking for a warm spot to spend the winter according to an etymologist with Texas A&M. The insects are so small that they can pass through many common window and door screens and also cracks in siding, paint and windowsills.

The bugs traditionally hide within tree bark but cannot distinguish the difference between the warmth under tree bark and the wood of someone’s home.

Pest control experts say that while the bugs don’t bite or sting, they can swarm which makes them annoying. They can get easily get into cars through air vents and are so small they can get into nasal passages and ear canals.

The bugs are also a nuisance because once they get into a car or home, they tend to die quickly and can pile up on surfaces. Experts say the best thing to do if you find the bugs in your home is to vacuum them up.