The government said the $8.5 million investment for Aspire was “to support the building of a commercial facility to produce cricket protein.”
The government said they choose the company to invest in because “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.”
The government says the funding will be used by Aspire to “use the latest smart technology to create the ideal growing conditions for crickets at its facility in London, Ontario” and “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 government believes this technology will allow the company to cut its production costs, which would increase its marketability and sales in the domestic and international markets.
The government says “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 facility in London, Ontario is expected to home more than four billion crickets and produce up to 13 million kilograms of insects annually.
If those numbers are met, it is expected to be one of the largest cricket-specific processing facilities in the world.
The co-founder of Aspire Mohammed Ashour told CBC that crickets can produce protein much more efficiently and with a fraction of the amount of food, water and land needed by other protein sources.
Ashour says his goal with the company is to make the protein available internationally.
“Our longer-term vision is to make sure that this is a protein source that can be available and affordable to genuinely address food insecurity in many countries around the world,” Ashour said.
“We have a massive growth in both population and appetite for protein, while at the same time we’re seeing a significant reduction in arable land and resources to produce food”, he added.