SEOUL, Jun. 27 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of South Korean farms raising insects has nearly tripled in the last three years, in line with rising interest in insects as an alternative source of food, animal feed and medicine, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.
A total of 2,136 farms bred insects in 2017, up from 1,261 in 2016 and 724 in 2015, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Brevitarsis seulensis, high in calcium, was the most popular insect species, with 1,195 farms earning a combined 16.6 billion won (US$14.8 million) of revenue in 2017. Beetles came next with 415 farms raising 2.4 billion won of revenue in that year, the ministry said.
The rising popularity comes as insects are considered a future food source rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins that produces less greenhouse gas and ammonia.
In 2016, the government classified seven species, including crickets and grasshoppers, as edible insects and vowed to support the development of related industries and local farms.
Riding on the latest trend, some restaurants in Seoul are serving a varied assortment of insect-made foods, ranging from cookies to sandwiches and seafood-tomato pastas, to target the niche market.