LONDON, ONT -- When it comes to a new source of food protein, crickets have been growing in popularity across North America.

“Insects are an extraordinary super food. I mean compared to virtually any form of protein you can imagine, they are an excellent source of amino acids. They are the only animal protein that is a source of dietary fibre,” says CEO of Aspire Food Group, Mohammed Ashour.

The company has been working with crickets to create a protein powder for five years now at a facility in Texas.

Ashour and his team will now embark in building the worlds largest food-grade automated cricket processing facility in the Forest City.

“Our facility here in London is going to be so innovated and unique because it’s the first ever indoor protein production system that’s been produced and designed from the ground up as a vertical farm.”

President and CEO of London’s Economic Development Corporation, Kapil Lakhotia says this is great news for the city.

“This is such a unique company because there is a growing demand for premium alternative protein products world-wide. This is becoming a mainstream opportunity within the food industry.”

The facility will sit on 12-acres of land in London’s Innovation Park.

Along with construction jobs, when the facility is up and running, it will initially employ approximately 60 people.

Ashour says once operational the facility can produce up to 20 million pounds of cricket protein powder a year.

“Our facility in London will be a facility where we will both produce and process the crickets into a food grade protein powder that’s tasteless and odourless,” says Ashour.

“It can be incorporated into various different food whether it be human food or pet food or other types of food applications.”

Lakohtia says the economic impact of the plant is exactly what the city needs.

“This is the kind of positive news our community needs especially at this cortical time while we are rebuilding our economy post COVID.”

Shovels are scheduled to hit the ground next month and the hopes are to have the facility up and running by the end of next year.