Fucibo Co claims that its e-commerce brand, 21 Bites, is the first online shop in Europe that only sells foods made from insects.
Founder Rossi, along with a growing number of advocates, believes that edible insects have the potential to appeal to European consumers. “We followed the evolution of this market in the past years and we're sure it could have a big future also in Europe,” he predicted.
Watchwords: Quality, safety, authenticity
The start-up sources “carefully-selected” products derived from insect protein and produced by European companies.
The 21 Bites team have tested all items available on its pages. The company’s and its messaging focuses on high quality and safety standards, Rossi explained.
“We bet on quality, safety and innovation. Every product that fits this idea is interesting for us: snacks, pasta, flour, whole dried insects, food supplements and so on.
“We selected what we think are the best suppliers in Europe. To do that we've obviously built a relation with them and we've tested their products. We buy their products and resale them to consumers,” Rossi elaborated.
“We're working to place a top-quality line of products 100% made in Italy on the market soon,” he added.
E-commerce the ‘prefect’ channel
The company launched its web portal on Tuesday (26 September). Initially, 21 Bites is rolling out a selection of around 20 products that it plans to “increase in the next weeks”.
21 Bites will be able to access a wide pool of consumers throughout Europe online and Rossi said this is the “perfect” channel for 21 Bites.
E-commerce has been an important avenue for manufacturers selling insect-based products. Online retailing opens the door to increased distribution with a lower bar for proof of concept. Most importantly for Rossi, direct-to-consumer sales are on-trend and European consumers are increasingly embracing e-commerce.
“We think that e-commerce is the modern way of commerce and that's perfect for the idea of company we have in mind. It surely works with food products in general,” he noted.
The company is currently focused on establishing its presence across Europe. But Rossi does believe that there is an opportunity for international expansion. “We serve the European market, and we'll stay focused on it at the moment. But in the future, we'd like to import and export from and to other continents.”
Progress on regulatory hurdles
Growing interest in edible insects from business and consumers is being supported by an evolving regulatory landscape in the region.
Currently in the EU, edible insect-derived ingredients and various body parts fall under novel food regulations, meaning that they are not authorised for sale as a foodstuff at an EU-wide level.
However, this is all set to change. The European Commission is in the process of introducing a new novel foods regulation that comes into effect at the beginning of next year, which will require all insect-based foods to undergo a pre-market approval process. “This new regulation will pave the way for a simpler, clearer and more efficient authorisation procedure,” European regulators claimed.
The European Food Safety Authority is also giving the green-light to insects entering the human food chain. In a recently published a report, EFFSA concluded that when feed used to produce insects meets the requirements for any input into the food chain, there are no microbiological or chemical contamination issues.