Why researchers want Kiwis to eat more bugs

Eating bugs for dinner could be in our future as researchers believe the New Zealand market is a gold mine for alternative proteins. 

It's not the most appetising thought, but maggots could soon replace our traditional idea of meat protein. 

Dennis Hucker from Prescient Nutrition says they are currently producing black soldier fly larvae, otherwise known as maggots, but the plan is to make it edible for humans.

"Why not feed the waste that would go into landfill, to the insects and use the insects as a basis for food."

It's this kind of innovation food science organisation FoodHQ wants businesses here to develop.

FoodHQ CEO Dr Abby Thompson said there's a lot of international demand for those sorts of products.

A report released today highlights the untapped market for alternative protein production in New Zealand.

Thompson said New Zealand needs to get more involved.

"If we compare with what's going on in the Netherlands, they're being a lot more strategic, deliberate and investing more."

She says most activity here is driven by small businesses producing all kinds of foods including meat-free, vegan and insect-based products.

The public seems to be on board with many saying they would consider eating insects.

"I mean the cricket wrap just tastes like a normal wrap," one person said.

Another commented: "I've just had the spirulina yoghurt and I only just found out that spirulina is an algae but it hasn't put me off".

Even Oat Milk gets the tick of approval with one person saying he would consider substituting it for dairy-based milk.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said the Government's listening and is keen to work with the industry. 

"There is no question that plant-based proteins are a fast-growing international market - in to win," he said.

But it won't be around anytime soon with Hucker estimating it will be 12 months or longer.