Today’s keynote speaker at the start of the afternoon was Mohammed Ashour. Mr. Ashour, the co-founder, and CEO of Aspire Food Group shared his inspiring vision of the development of the edible insect sector in two presentations with a high attendance rate. With a background in neuroscience and an MBA, his approach to insect-production systems is data-driven, innovative and collaborative.
Lunch & Learn Hartman Study
In his first presentation which took place during the lunch and learn session, Mr. Ashour presented the results of a cricket consumer study. He suggested that while novelty and sustainability were initially the main promotional attributes of edible insects, the nutrient density, protein diversification and sustainability should now be the marketing focus of insect entrepreneurs. For instance, life cycle analysis from a neutral third party is a central tool to demonstrate the real sustainability impacts of the production and identify opportunities for improvements. Start-up and scale-up corporations should seek to reverse engineer their products. Reverse engineering would allow them to meet consumers’ needs by actively reorienting research and development.
IFW2022 Keynote address
Ashour’s keynote (his second presentation) was a set of practical pieces of advice to guide companies in scaling up their operations. With the vacated market shares, the flexibility of indoor modular farming systems, and the acceleration of consumers’ interest in alternative proteins, there is space for more successful large insect production plants. He mentions that sharing information and collaboration could help to create momentum in demand and favourable opening of the regulations. Collaboration in the sector contributes to productivity at scale by attracting talent, developing scientific knowledge and increasing visibility. As a result, the risk perceived by consumers or investors is reduced, allowing to overcome the vicious cycle of needing “scale to stimulate demand” and needing “demand to justify scale”. As an ending remark, he suggested simplifying the operations to maintain the team’s motivation and facilitating the scaling process and adaptation to the client’s dynamic needs.