World's largest cricket processing plant coming to London, Ont.

London, Ont. will soon be home to the world's largest indoor cricket farm.

Aspire Food Group, a global industry leader in the production of edible insects, will soon build a 100,000-square-foot plant that will bring bugs, as food, to the North American market.

The new facility will be one of the most technologically advanced and energy-efficient protein production systems in the world.

"This first-of-its-kind commercial facility will enable not just Aspire Food Group, but our entire growing sector to take an important stride forward in our mission to deliver an excellent-value protein at a fraction of the environmental impact of most conventional protein sources," said Mohammed Ashour, co-founder of Aspire Food Group.

The food of the future

Aspire farms processes crickets into "all-natural, sustainable, superfood ingredients that are nutritionally superior to livestock, cell-cultured, and plant-based alternatives."

The company has purchased 12 acres of land in Innovation Park near Veterans Memorial Parkway and Highway 401. Construction will begin in August and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Once the plant opens, it will employ about 60 people to help meet the demand for alternative protein products for both the human and pet food markets.

London's mayor Ed Holder is excited to welcome the new facility to London.

"This highly innovative and internationally renowned firm represents a significant addition not only to London's growing food and beverage sector but also to Innovation Park where Aspire's facility will soon occupy 12 acres."

"With our economy in the early stages of recovery, Aspire Food Group's imminent arrival is proof that London's industrial land strategy is succeeding at expanding and growing our workforce in new and diverse ways," Holder added.

Health benefits

Many of us can't imagine popping a cricket into our mouths as a snack. But studies show that eating insects could be good for you and the planet.

Insects are a great source of protein and minerals, such as iron, zinc and magnesium. They include a protein called chitin that encourages healthy bacteria to grow in your stomach.

Also, 100 grams of insects (crickets, beetles, red ants and grasshoppers) contains almost the same amount of protein as meat, but with less fat and fewer calories.