Insect protein is not a new phenomenon. A couple of years ago, we started reporting on the rise of using insects as a form of protein, in food, as well as the research suggesting it to be the new snacking trend.
However, over these past couple of years the sector has experienced a mixed reaction. We’ve seen a large amount of innovation, as many start-ups work hard to change people’s attitudes towards eating insects. One of the most obvious ways, that we’ve witnessed, is by combining insect protein into existing popular food stuffs. Combing insect flour in the protein bar is a perfect example.
Despite this, the sector still faces a continued challenge of convincing people that insects are a good, healthy and nutritious food choice. With little resistance in Africa, and some Eastern areas, the West is proving a trickier market to break into. Whilst initially storming into the press, and causing quite a stir with the ‘craziness’ of the idea, now, when push comes to shove, are consumers actually accepting the idea or has the bug buzz worn off?
We explore some of the start-ups, investing their time and money, trying to convince us that insects are the way to go.
After raising $30,000 in their Kickstarter campaign last summer, this start-up from Austin, Texas are challenging consumers and asking them to ‘re-think’ their attitude to food. With their tag line ‘Eat with us. Think with us. Thrive with us’ the company have launched a healthy granola range, made with cricket flour – containing no refined sugar, no grains or gluten, and high in protein. Each serving size contains approximately 40 crickets. “It is vital that we start to eat [insects] again as they’re a fantastically resource efficient source of protein and micro-nutrients.”
Six foods is “3 women on a mission” taking snacking to the next level. The company have created ‘chirps’ an alternative to potato crisps, with three times the protein and 40% less fat. Made with beans, corn, peas, chia seeds and cricket flour, each serving contains six grams of protein. According to Six Foods, 2.5 billion people already eat crickets in one form or the other, so why aren’t we?
A team of graduate students from Cornell University, US, started C-fu Foods with the aim of utilising ‘novel food science processes to advance insect based foods’ One of their most notable creations, is a tofu-like ‘burger’ made entirely with mealworms protein. Containing as much protein (pound-for-pound) as egg, the ‘burger’ is also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. “Bugs use less land, eat less food, and emit less planet-warming gases.” With “an area the size of Rhode Island, full of farmed mealworms, feeding 2 billion people,” the team’s creation could make people re-think the capabilities of insect protein.
A duo from Iceland started up Crowbar in June 2014, as a way to encourage more people to eat healthy, sustainable food. By January 2015, the team finished developing a prototype for the protein bar and then went on to crowdfund their campaign. After a month, they successfully raised enough money to produce the bar, which will be available in the autumn. Their creation is the ‘Jungle Bar’, a protein bar made with dates, cranberries, sesame, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, chocolate and cricket flour!
Copenhagen-based Nordic Food Lab and British gin maker The Cambridge Distillery have collaborated on the development of a limited-edition gin made using the essence of red wood ants. The formic acid, produced by ants as a defence mechanism, mixes with alcohol to produce aromatic critic flavours – giving the gin a unique taste. More than 6,000 red wood ants were used in the distillation of an initial batch of 99 bottles, which also combines Bulgarian juniper berries and botanicals, such as wood avens, nettle and Alexanders seeds.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020