Class of 2021

Leah Bessa

Science Innovators

Move over, oat milk, almond milk and dairy – Leah Bessa wants you to know that insects are the food of the future. After graduating in Food Science from Stellenbosch University, where she worked with insects in the Animal Science department, Leah came up with the idea for Gourmet Grubb, which she co-founded with Jean Louwrens and Llewelyn de Beer in 2017. Enter Entomilk, the world’s first insect-derived ‘dairy’ product, made from the sustainably farmed black soldier fly. This insect-based liquid forms the basis for Gourmet Grubb’s ice cream and in future will be developed into a hard cheese.

There are clear benefits to using insects as a food source – they don’t produce greenhouse gases like agricultural animals, while Entomilk is also more water- and energy-efficient to produce than dairy or dairy alternatives, and the product is high in good fats and comparable in protein to red meat. But Leah and her team face the challenge of helping consumers overcome their fear, which they have done through The Insect Experience, a pop-up restaurant in Cape Town where people can try delicious, insect-based dishes. Now Leah has her sights set on expanding the possibilities of the insect food space and demonstrating their potential to solve global food problems – a challenge she says will keep her occupied for years to come.

“I’d like to find viable products for the entire insect production system to create a true circular economy.” – Leah Bessa

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