Investment in state-of-the-art facility for Aspire to support sustainable food production
June 27, 2022 – London, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Canadian agriculture sector continues to develop innovative ways to meet the demand for more sustainably grown food. Today, Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced on behalf of the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, an investment of up to $8.5 million for Aspire to support the building of a commercial facility to produce cricket protein.
Alternative sources of protein such as insects provide an opportunity for Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector to more sustainably meet global demand for food. Aspire's goal to tackle global food scarcity led to its focus on edible insect production, which can provide high volumes of nutritious food with a low environmental footprint.
With funding under the AgriInnovate Program, Aspire will use the latest smart technology to create the ideal growing conditions for crickets at its facility in London, Ontario. This investment will allow the company to monitor and grow billions of crickets at a time, producing a nutrient-rich protein for premium health food and pet markets. The technology will also significantly cut Aspire's cost of production, making its products more attractive for sale in domestic and international markets.
Food grade processing of insects is still relatively new for Canadian agriculture. However, alternative sources of protein such as insects provide an opportunity to more sustainable meet global demand for food by using less water, energy and space and emitting significantly less greenhouse gas emissions during the production stage.
The Government of Canada supports value-added innovation and the commercialization of cutting-edge technologies as part of a competitive and sustainable agriculture and agri-food industry.
"Aspire is re-imagining what it means to sustainably produce food, and how smart technology can turn that vision into a reality. Aspire's innovative facility will help further establish London's reputation as a hub for cutting-edge technology, strongly contributing to Ontario and Canada's position as an innovator in agriculture and agri-food."
- Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
"London attracts leaders and pioneers in technological innovation who are dedicated to making the world a better place. Aspire will be at home here as the company re-defines what is possible in the insect protein sector, creating new solutions for sustainable food production."
- Arielle Kayabaga, Member of Parliament, London West
"The strength of Canadian agriculture has always been its openness to new ideas and new approaches. Aspire is helping to re-shape how we think about agriculture and opening the door to new product and market opportunities."
- Peter Fragiskatos, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and Member of Parliament for London North Centre
"Aspire is grateful to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for its support of our first commercial facility. A growing population and increasing demand for food and material requires sustainable, scalable solutions that keep our world healthy."
- Mohammed Ashour, Co-Founder and CEO, Aspire
Aspire was formed by five McGill University students in 2013 interested in finding solutions to global food scarcity. The company was launched after the team won the 2013 US$1 million Hult Prize, an annual social entrepreneurship competition that challenges students to build businesses that contribute to solving a pressing social issue.
Aspire began with pilot projects in multiple countries, using different production technologies and markets to become a leader in scalable cricket production. In addition to London, Ontario, the company has a research and development facility in Austin, Texas.
When tested in its research and development facility in Austin, Texas, Aspire's greenhouse gas emissions from cricket protein production were more than 40 per cent lower than those generated in farmed salmon and organic chicken and turkey production.
The demand for alternate sources of protein is growing, with the global market for pet food exceeding US$90 billion and global demand for edible insects for human consumption forecast to be worth more than US$8 billion in the next decade.
Nutritionally, crickets are rich in protein and contain the vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. All parts of a cricket are edible.
The goal of the AgriInnovate Program is to accelerate the commercialization and adoption of innovative products, technologies, processes and services that increase competiveness in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.
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