The idea of eating insects might make some people retch in horror, but bug-based snacks such as worm burgers and roasted crickets will be just as popular as sushi within the next decade, according to a new report.
A disappearing sense of fear as more people get on board the protein-rich food will see the insect food market worth £6.3 billion by 2030.
Alternatives to meat are already popular in across many parts of Europe, the US and the Middle East as vegetarian and vegan diets become more mainstream.
The vast energy, land and water resources needed to maintain livestock means the consumption of insects as an alternative source of nutrients can help climate change.
In order to produce beef, 250 metres of land is required for every 100g portion, while only need 25 square metres of land is needed to produce 100g of insect food.
“We see scope for insects to reduce the environmental burden of our food system,” said Emily Morrison, a co-author of the report published by Barclays.
At least two billion people already eat insects as part of their diets, especially in south east Asian countries where it is considered a delicacy.
Taking inspiration from them and consuming insects regularly could meet the world’s growing demand to feed more people in sustainable ways.
The report says younger people are more likely to overcome squeamishness about the food, and site the transformation of sushi as a niche dish to mainstream in the west.
A number of companies already serve insect-based foods.
In the UK, supermarket giants Sainsburys and Ocado sell roasted crickets, while European supermarket Carrefour started selling buffalo worm pasta last year.
Nutritional breakfast bars made from insect protein have also taken off in recent years.
A niche industry of insect farming has also been emerging in North America.