LONDON, ONTARIO — Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada revealed June 27 an $8.5 million investment to Aspire, an insect agricultural company, to build a new production facility in Canada. The facility will process cricket-based protein, helping to advance the use of insect proteins in human and pet food products.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, food-grade processing of insects is relatively new in Canada, however insect-based proteins create an opportunity for the country’s agri-food industry to develop more sustainable products.

"The strength of Canadian agriculture has always been its openness to new ideas and new approaches,” said Peter Fragiskatos, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and member of Parliament for London North Center. “Aspire is helping to re-shape how we think about agriculture and opening the door to new product and market opportunities."

Founded in 2013, Aspire strives to tackle worldwide food scarcity with a focus on edible insect production, therefore developing highly nutritious foods and lowering its environmental impact. Currently, the company has production facilities in London, Ontario, and Austin, Texas. In 2020, Aspire purchased 12 acres of land in Ontario to construct what it expects to be the largest automated, food-grade cricket processing facility in the world.

"Aspire is re-imagining what it means to sustainably produce food, and how smart technology can turn that vision into a reality,” said Francious Drouin, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. “Aspire's innovative facility will help further establish London's reputation as a hub for cutting-edge technology, strongly contributing to Ontario and Canada's position as an innovator in agriculture and agri-food."

Apsire plans to use the investment, as well as smart technology, to build its first commercial insect production facility in Ontario. The facility will boost Aspire’s insect farming capabilities, providing it with the ability to grow and monitor billions of crickets, which will be used to create nutrient-rich protein ingredients for use in the human and pet food industries.

"Aspire is grateful to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for its support of our first commercial facility,” said Mohammed Ashour, co-founder and chief executive officer of Aspire. “A growing population and increasing demand for food and material requires sustainable, scalable solutions that keep our world healthy."

The company plans to use technology to its advantage, significantly decreasing production costs, which will make its products more affordable to both Canada’s and the world’s food industries.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s investment comes from the AgriInnovate Program, an initiative committed to accelerating the commercialization of innovative products, technologies and processes that increase Canada’s competitiveness in the agriculture market.

"London attracts leaders and pioneers in technological innovation who are dedicated to making the world a better place,” said Arielle Kayabaga, member of Parliament London West. “Aspire will be at home here as the company re-defines what is possible in the insect protein sector, creating new solutions for sustainable food production."

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