Swiss retailer Coop is launching a range of burgers and meatballs made from mealworm larvae.
The organisation, one of the country’s biggest wholesale retailers, is teaming up with Essento, a Swiss start-up which makes food from insects, on the venture.
Essento is marketing insects as an alternative source of protein to meat, whose production contributes to carbon emissions and consumes valuable resources.
It claims that flourworm farming has a lower global warming potential – measured in kilos of carbon dioxide released per kilo of protein produced– than conventional sources.
Its warming potential is twice less than milk, 2.5 times less than pork, 1.8 times less than chicken, and 8.5 times less than beef.
Cattle farming uses up ten times the amount of feed needed for insects, and is more wasteful, says Essento, with 80% of an insect edible compared to around 40% of a cow.
The venture has required regulatory change, with insects previously not approved for human consumption in Switzerland. From this spring, certain insects can be sold, after being approved by the Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs.
“Tracking down trends and implementing innovations is part of our success story,” said Roland Frefel, head of fresh products at Coop.
“With selected insects as ingredients in processed products, we are promoting forward-looking food production and creating a relevant range of products from the outset, which opens up new tastes to our customers.”
Mr Frefel said the collaboration with Essento, is part of Coop’s efforts to “generate momentum and shape the future”.
“This is enormously important if you want to stay at the top,” he added.
The mealworm products will go on sale at selected Coop supermarkets in May.