Home » Entries posted by KELVIN CHAN AP Business Writer

What pairs with beetle? Startups seek to make bugs tasty

What pairs with beetle? Startups seek to make bugs tasty

LONDON — Tiziana Di Costanzo makes pizza dough from scratch, mixing together flour, yeast, a pinch of salt, a dash of olive oil and something a bit more unusual — ground acheta domesticus, better known as cricket powder.Di Costanzo is an edible insect entrepreneur who holds cricket and mealworm cooking classes at her West London home, where she also raises the critters in a backyard shed with her husband, Tom.Her startup, Horizon Insects, is part of Europe’s nascent edible insect scene, which features dozens of bug-based businesses offering cricket chips in the Czech Republic, bug burgers in Germany and Belgian beetle beer. The European Union headquarters in Brussels is also backing research into insect-based proteins as part of a broader sustainable food strategy.As the Earth’s growing population puts more pressure on global food production, insects are increasingly seen as a viable food source. Experts say they’re rich in protein, yet can be raised much more sustainably than beef or pork.Around the world, 2 billion people in 130 countries eat insects regularly. The global edible insect market is poised to boom, according to investment bank Barclay’s, citing data from Meticulous Research that forecasts it will grow from less than $1 billion in 2019 to $8 billion by 2030.But despite all the European startups working to make insects appetizing, don’t expect them to start appearing at mainstream restaurants or on dinner tables just yet. One big reason is a strong cultural “yuck” factor in Western countries that Arnold van Huis, a professor of tropical entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, says will be hard to change.“It’s very difficult to turn people’s minds around but insects are absolutely safe to eat, maybe even more nutritious than meat products,” with the only risk coming from allergies, because insects are closely related to crustaceans like shrimp, van Huis said.Instead, humans may end up eating more insects indirectly because the market that shows the most promise is for feeding animals. The EU approved insect protein as feed for fish farming in 2017. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for chicken feed in 2018, while EU approval for poultry and pigs is due later this year.Regulatory change has also made things easier for European companies looking to market insects directly to consumers. The EU didn’t previously govern edible insects because they weren’t considered food, leaving individual countries to impose their own rules. To bring rules in line across countries, the EU in 2018 launched a directive that covers insects but requires approvals for individual species, paving the way for a wave of authorizations.European production of insect-based food products is forecast to mushroom from from 500 metric tons currently to 260,000 metric tons by 2030, according to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, a Brussels-based lobby group.Insects require a tenth of the land, account for a fraction of greenhouse gas or ammonia emissions and need much less water than cattle or pigs, van Huis said.The first approval came earlier this year for Tenebrio molitor larva, or dried yellow mealworm, after an application from French insect farm Micronutris. The EU Commission’s food safety regulators said in a scientific opinion that mealworms are safe to eat, though they warned of possible reactions in people allergic to crustaceans or dust mites.Regulators issued another positive opinion this month for grasshoppers, based on an application from Protix, a Netherlands-based insect farming company.“Our vision is that insects will go from niche to normal,” said Protix CEO Kees Aarts, who predicted an “explosion of food applications” to EU regulators.At Protix’s state-of-the-art vertical farm in Bergen op Zoom, green plastic crates stacked in towering columns are filled with wriggling black soldier fly larvae.The high-tech facility turns the larvae into protein meal and oil for use in fish feed and pet food. The company also has a line of bug-based snacks and ingredients like cinnamon mealworms and cricket protein falafel mix and, after getting final approval, plans to market frozen, dried or powdered grasshoppers as an ingredient for breakfast cereals, pasta, baked goods, sauces and imitation meat.In London, Di Costanzo’s Horizon Insects is developing an insect-based cooking ingredient after discovering that there wasn’t much of a local market for the fresh edible mealworms they were selling.Di Costanzo says the cricket powder she uses in her pizza gives it “a very nice, meaty, healthy taste” while boosting the nutritional content with protein, macronutrients and omega acids. Mealworm burgers, meanwhile, are “tasty and very easy to make,” and powdered mealworms have a mild taste that allows them to be incorporated into cakes, bread and pasta.“Definitely, I think the future is products made with insects rather than the actual insect,” said Di Costanzo, who also bemoaned post-Brexit government red tape that’s leaving small U.K. edible insect entrepreneurs in limbo.Antoine Hubert, CEO of France’s Ynsect, says the most lucrative opportunity will come from the sports and health nutrition markets for its mealworm-based protein powder. The company also makes insect protein for fish feed that Hubert said helps farmed salmon grow bigger and faster while reducing the need for fishmeal — smaller fish caught in huge quantities — which helps improve the ocean’s biodiversity.Investors including Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition were among the backers contributing to Ynsect’s latest round of funding worth $224 million. The money will fund a vertical farm north of Paris that it says will be one of the world’s biggest when it’s completed next year, capable of producing 100,000 tons year of commercial mealworm products, as well as expansion in North America, where it plans to build another farm in the U.S. and apply for FDA approval for its food products.Downey Jr. has been promoting the benefits of mealworm powder, supplying a tub of it to talk show host Stephen Colbert.“I could put this in a smoothie or something?” Colbert asked.“You’ll be making all kinds of stuff out of it,” Downey Jr. replied.———For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology———Follow Kelvin Chan at https://www.twitter.com/chanman

What pairs with beetle? Startups seek to make bugs tasty

What pairs with beetle? Startups seek to make bugs tasty

LONDON — Tiziana Di Costanzo makes pizza dough from scratch, mixing together flour, yeast, a pinch of salt, a dash of olive oil and something a bit more unusual — ground acheta domesticus, better known as cricket powder.Di Costanzo is an edible insect entrepreneur who holds cricket and mealworm cooking classes at her West London home, where she also raises the critters in a backyard shed with her husband, Tom.Her startup, Horizon Insects, is part of Europe’s nascent edible insect scene, which features dozens of bug-based businesses offering cricket chips in the Czech Republic, bug burgers in Germany and Belgian beetle beer. The European Union headquarters in Brussels is also backing research into insect-based proteins as part of a broader sustainable food strategy.As the Earth’s growing population puts more pressure on global food production, insects are increasingly seen as a viable food source. Experts say they’re rich in protein, yet can be raised much more sustainably than beef or pork.Around the world, 2 billion people in 130 countries eat insects regularly. The global edible insect market is poised to boom, according to investment bank Barclay’s, citing data from Meticulous Research that forecasts it will grow from less than $1 billion in 2019 to $8 billion by 2030.But despite all the European startups working to make insects appetizing, don’t expect them to start appearing at mainstream restaurants or on dinner tables just yet. One big reason is a strong cultural “yuck” factor in Western countries that Arnold van Huis, a professor of tropical entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, says will be hard to change.“It’s very difficult to turn people’s minds around but insects are absolutely safe to eat, maybe even more nutritious than meat products,” with the only risk coming from allergies, because insects are closely related to crustaceans like shrimp, van Huis said.Instead, humans may end up eating more insects indirectly because the market that shows the most promise is for feeding animals. The EU approved insect protein as feed for fish farming in 2017. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for chicken feed in 2018, while EU approval for poultry and pigs is due later this year.Regulatory change has also made things easier for European companies looking to market insects directly to consumers. The EU didn’t previously govern edible insects because they weren’t considered food, leaving individual countries to impose their own rules. To bring rules in line across countries, the EU in 2018 launched a directive that covers insects but requires approvals for individual species, paving the way for a wave of authorizations.European production of insect-based food products is forecast to mushroom from from 500 metric tons currently to 260,000 metric tons by 2030, according to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, a Brussels-based lobby group.Insects require a tenth of the land, account for a fraction of greenhouse gas or ammonia emissions and need much less water than cattle or pigs, van Huis said.The first approval came earlier this year for Tenebrio molitor larva, or dried yellow mealworm, after an application from French insect farm Micronutris. The EU Commission’s food safety regulators said in a scientific opinion that mealworms are safe to eat, though they warned of possible reactions in people allergic to crustaceans or dust mites.Regulators issued another positive opinion this month for grasshoppers, based on an application from Protix, a Netherlands-based insect farming company.“Our vision is that insects will go from niche to normal,” said Protix CEO Kees Aarts, who predicted an “explosion of food applications” to EU regulators.At Protix’s state-of-the-art vertical farm in Bergen op Zoom, green plastic crates stacked in towering columns are filled with wriggling black soldier fly larvae.The high-tech facility turns the larvae into protein meal and oil for use in fish feed and pet food. The company also has a line of bug-based snacks and ingredients like cinnamon mealworms and cricket protein falafel mix and, after getting final approval, plans to market frozen, dried or powdered grasshoppers as an ingredient for breakfast cereals, pasta, baked goods, sauces and imitation meat.In London, Di Costanzo’s Horizon Insects is developing an insect-based cooking ingredient after discovering that there wasn’t much of a local market for the fresh edible mealworms they were selling.Di Costanzo says the cricket powder she uses in her pizza gives it “a very nice, meaty, healthy taste” while boosting the nutritional content with protein, macronutrients and omega acids. Mealworm burgers, meanwhile, are “tasty and very easy to make,” and powdered mealworms have a mild taste that allows them to be incorporated into cakes, bread and pasta.“Definitely, I think the future is products made with insects rather than the actual insect,” said Di Costanzo, who also bemoaned post-Brexit government red tape that’s leaving small U.K. edible insect entrepreneurs in limbo.Antoine Hubert, CEO of France’s Ynsect, says the most lucrative opportunity will come from the sports and health nutrition markets for its mealworm-based protein powder. The company also makes insect protein for fish feed that Hubert said helps farmed salmon grow bigger and faster while reducing the need for fishmeal — smaller fish caught in huge quantities — which helps improve the ocean’s biodiversity.Investors including Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition were among the backers contributing to Ynsect’s latest round of funding worth $224 million. The money will fund a vertical farm north of Paris that it says will be one of the world’s biggest when it’s completed next year, capable of producing 100,000 tons year of commercial mealworm products, as well as expansion in North America, where it plans to build another farm in the U.S. and apply for FDA approval for its food products.Downey Jr. has been promoting the benefits of mealworm powder, supplying a tub of it to talk show host Stephen Colbert.“I could put this in a smoothie or something?” Colbert asked.“You’ll be making all kinds of stuff out of it,” Downey Jr. replied.———For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology———Follow Kelvin Chan at https://www.twitter.com/chanman

UK watchdog probes Amazon, Google for fake reviews of goods

UK watchdog probes Amazon, Google for fake reviews of goods

U.K. regulators are investigating Google and Amazon over concerns the online giants aren’t doing enough to stop fake reviews of products and services on their platformsBy KELVIN CHAN AP Business WriterJune 25, 2021, 9:29 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — U.K. regulators said on Friday that they’re investigating Google and Amazon over concerns the online giants aren’t doing enough to stop fake reviews of products and services on their platforms.The Competition and Markets Authority said it opened a formal investigation into whether the two companies broke U.K. consumer law by failing to protect shoppers. The watchdog started looking into phony reviews on some big websites last year – without identifying any specific ones – amid the pandemic-fueled boom in online shopping.“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” the watchdog’s chief executive Andrea Coscelli said in a press statement.“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”The CMA said its investigation has yet to determine whether either company broke consumer protection law. If it does, the watchdog could require that they change how they deal with fake reviews or be taken court.Google and Amazon said they will work with U.K. regulators on the investigation.“To help earn the trust of customers, we devote significant resources to preventing fake or incentivized reviews from appearing in our store,” Amazon said in statement. The company said it works hard to ensure reviews “accurately reflect the experience that customers have had with a product” and noted that it blocked 200 million fake reviews before they were ever seen by shoppers.Google said its “strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action – from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts.”The CMA said its initial probe that began last year raised specific concerns about whether the two companies had been doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews and removing them quickly from their sites.It’s concerned in particular about “suspicious patterns of behaviour” involving reviews, for example when the same users review the same unrelated products or businesses at around the same time.Another red flag is when a positive review suggests the reviewer was paid or received an incentive to write it, the CMA said.The watchdog said it’s questioning whether Google and Amazon are doing enough to hand out adequate penalties to reviewers or businesses caught posting false or misleading reviews, as a way to deter frequent offenders.It’s also looking specifically into whether Amazon’s systems are failing to stop some sellers from manipulating product listings by combining positive reviews for one product with a listing for a different one.

UK watchdog probes Amazon, Google for fake reviews of goods

UK watchdog probes Amazon, Google for fake reviews of goods

U.K. regulators are investigating Google and Amazon over concerns the online giants aren’t doing enough to stop fake reviews of products and services on their platformsBy KELVIN CHAN AP Business WriterJune 25, 2021, 10:35 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — U.K. regulators said on Friday that they’re investigating Google and Amazon over concerns the online giants aren’t doing enough to stop fake reviews of products and services on their platforms.The Competition and Markets Authority said it opened a formal investigation into whether the two companies broke U.K. consumer law by failing to protect shoppers. The watchdog started looking into phony reviews on some big websites last year – without identifying any specific ones – amid the pandemic-fueled boom in online shopping.“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” the watchdog’s chief executive Andrea Coscelli said in a press statement.“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”The CMA said its investigation has yet to determine whether either company broke consumer protection law. If it does, the watchdog could require that they change how they deal with fake reviews or be taken court.Google and Amazon said they will work with U.K. regulators on the investigation.“To help earn the trust of customers, we devote significant resources to preventing fake or incentivized reviews from appearing in our store,” Amazon said in statement. The company said it works hard to ensure reviews “accurately reflect the experience that customers have had with a product” and noted that it blocked 200 million fake reviews before they were ever seen by shoppers.Google said its “strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action – from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts.”The CMA said its initial probe that began last year raised specific concerns about whether the two companies had been doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews and removing them quickly from their sites.It’s concerned in particular about “suspicious patterns of behaviour” involving reviews, for example when the same users review the same unrelated products or businesses at around the same time.Another red flag is when a positive review suggests the reviewer was paid or received an incentive to write it, the CMA said.Another concern is whether Google and Amazon are doing enough to hand out adequate penalties to reviewers or businesses caught posting false or misleading reviews, as a way to deter frequent offenders.The watchdog is also looking specifically into whether Amazon’s systems are failing to stop some sellers from manipulating product listings by “co-opting” positive reviews from other products.

Google delays plan to phase out Chrome ad-tracking tech

Google delays plan to phase out Chrome ad-tracking tech

Google says it’s delaying plans to phase out Chrome browser technology that tracks users for ad purposes because it needs more time to develop a replacement systemBy KELVIN CHAN AP Business WriterJune 24, 2021, 6:29 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — Google says it’s delaying plans to phase out Chrome web browser technology that tracks users for ad purposes because it needs more time to develop a replacement system.The tech giant said Thursday that its deadline to remove so-called third-party cookies will be pushed back to late 2023, nearly two years later than the initial timing of January 2022.“We need to move at a responsible pace, allowing sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services,” Vinay Goel, the director of privacy engineering for Chrome, said in a blog post.Third-party cookies are snippets of code that log user info and are used by advertisers to more effectively target their campaigns, thereby helping fund free online content such as newspapers and blogs. However, they’ve also been a longstanding source of privacy concerns because they can be employed to track users across the internet.Google is retiring third-party cookies as it overhauls Chrome to tighten privacy, but the proposals have shaken up the online advertising industry, raising fears that replacement technology will leave even less room for online ad rivals. European Union and British regulators have been investigating Google’s plans, known as Privacy Sandbox.To resolve the U.K. probe, the company has offered the country’s competition watchdog a role overseeing the cookie phaseout. It has also promised not to discriminate against rival digital advertising companies when designing the new technology and pledged to give the U.K. competition watchdog 60 days notice before removing third-party cookies.Goel said Google aims to have the new technology available by the end of 2022 for developers to start adopting, which would allow third-party cookies to be phased out of Chrome over three months “ending in late 2023.” That timeline is in line with the commitments Google has made to the U.K. competition watchdog, Goel said.One of the leading ideas to replace third-party cookies is a technique that hides users in large online groups based on their interests while keeping web browsing histories on devices to maintain privacy.———For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology———Follow Kelvin Chan at https://www.twitter.com/chanman

Google delays phase out of tracking tech by nearly 2 years

Google delays phase out of tracking tech by nearly 2 years

Google is delaying by nearly two years the phase out of Chrome web browser technology that tracks users for ad purposes, saying that it needs more time to develop a replacement systemBy KELVIN CHAN AP Business WriterJune 24, 2021, 5:08 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — Google will delay by nearly two years the phase out of Chrome web browser technology that tracks users for ad purposes, saying that it needs more time to develop a replacement system.The tech giant on Thursday moved its deadline to remove so-called third-party cookies to late 2023 rather than January 2022 as was initially planned.“We need to move at a responsible pace, allowing sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services,” Vinay Goel, the director of privacy engineering for Chrome, said in a blog post.Third-party cookies are snippets of code that log user info and are used by advertisers to more effectively target their campaigns, thereby helping fund free online content such as newspapers and blogs. However, they’ve also been a longstanding source of privacy concerns because they can be employed to track users across the internet.Google is retiring third-party cookies as it overhauls Chrome to tighten privacy, but the proposals have shaken up the online advertising industry, raising fears that replacement technology will leave even less room for online ad rivals. European Union and British regulators have been investigating Google’s plans, known as Privacy Sandbox.To resolve the U.K. probe, the company has offered the country’s competition watchdog a role overseeing the cookie phaseout. It has also promised not to discriminate against rival digital advertising companies when designing the new technology and pledged to give the U.K. competition watchdog 60 days notice before removing third-party cookies.Goel said Google aims to have the new technology available by the end of 2022 for developers to start adopting, which would allow third-party cookies to be phased out of Chrome over three months “ending in late 2023.” That timeline is in line with the commitments Google has made to the U.K. competition watchdog, Goel said.One of the leading ideas to replace third-party cookies is a technique that hides users in large online groups based on their interests while keeping web browsing histories on devices to maintain privacy.———For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology———Follow Kelvin Chan at https://www.twitter.com/chanman

Google offers UK watchdog role in browser cookie phase-out

Google offers UK watchdog role in browser cookie phase-out

Google has promised to give U.K. regulators a role overseeing its plan to phase out existing ad-tracking technology from its Chrome browserBy KELVIN CHAN AP Business WriterJune 11, 2021, 6:25 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — Google is offering U.K. regulators a role overseeing its phasing out of ad-tracking technology from its Chrome browser, in a package of commitments the tech giant is proposing to apply globally to head off a competition investigation.The U.K. competition watchdog has been investigating Google’s proposals to remove so-called third-party cookies over concerns they would undermine digital ad competition and entrench the company’s market power.To address the concerns, Google on Friday offered a set of commitments including giving the Competition and Markets Authority an oversight role as the company designs and develops a replacement technology.“The emergence of tech giants such as Google has presented competition authorities around the world with new challenges that require a new approach,” Andrea Coscelli, the watchdog’s chief executive, said.The Competition and Markets Authority will work with tech companies to “shape their behaviour and protect competition to the benefit of consumers,” he said.Google’s promises also include “substantial limits” on how Google will use and combine individual user data for digital ad purposes and a pledge not to discriminate against rivals in favor of its own ad businesses with the new technology.If Google’s commitments are accepted, they will be applied globally, the company said in a blog post.Third-party cookies – snippets of code that log user info – are used to help businesses more effectively target advertising and fund free online content such as newspapers. However, they’ve also been a longstanding source of privacy concerns because they can be used to track users across the internet.Google shook up the digital ad industry with its plan to do away with third-party cookies, which raised fears newer technology would leave even less room for online ad rivals. The plan involves replacing “individual identifiers” with techniques that hide users in large online groups based on their interests while keeping web browsing histories on devices to maintain privacy.The competition watchdog will seek feedback until July from other players in the tech and digital ad industry on Google’s commitments. Then it will decide whether to accept Google’s offer and close the competition case.Google has been busy grappling with a wave tide of antitrust investigations in Europe. The U.K. offer comes days after it resolved another case involving its digital ad business, when it agreed to pay a 220 million euro ($268 million) to France’s antitrust watchdog for abusing its ‘dominant’ position in online advertising.———For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology———Follow Kelvin Chan at https://www.twitter.com/chanman