Crickets are scurrying over the surface of paper egg cartons in plastic containers set on the shelves of a temperature-controlled greenhouse in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. For many people, these critters will soon be tasty snacks. Raising crickets is a relatively new venture for Taiyo Green Energy Co., which generates electricity from solar power and grows vegetables indoors.
Even though insect cultivation fell outside its scope of its normal expertise, the Saitama Prefecture-based company began raising the crickets in 2017 and started shipping them in 2018. “We are looking to produce a sustainable source of food in Japan,” said Fumihiko Kojin, president of Taiyo Green Energy.
It is one of an increasing number of Japanese businesses getting into edible insect farming, as bugs draw more and more attention as a sustainable food source. According to Ryota Mitsuhashi, a product development official at the Tokyo-based edible bug retailer Takeo, many Japanese companies have recently entered the insect farming business. “As far as I know, at least 26 corporations, including those scheduled to start culturing from now, are working in the cricket market,” said Mitsuhashi. “In addition, several other firms are engaging in the farming of housefly larvae and silkworms.”
Takeo began selling domestically raised insects in 2019 and bug products from nine farmers are now available at the store. It also started farming migratory locusts on its own in 2019 and started a joint research program with Hirosaki University in 2020.
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