- Seek Food, a New York-based producer of snacks and blended baking flours made from crickets, is boosting interest in its Kickstarter funding campaign by offering premiums for varying contribution levels. As of press time, the startup had raised more than $42,000 — cruising past its initial $25,000 target in seven hours — with 20 days left to go.
- Donors of more than $8 receive a cricket cookbook featuring 30-some recipes containing cricket flours from an award-winning group of chefs such as Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony and Van Leuweens Ice Cream. The recipes contain all-purpose, gluten-free or paleo cricket flours, and some use 100% pure cricket flour.
- On its Kickstarter page, the company touts the benefits of cricket flour, including its sustainability as well as its high nutrient values of protein, calcium, iron, fiber, omega-3s, B12 and magnesium.
Seek's fast fundraising shows that despite a lack of current mainstream acceptance of many insect-based ingredients, interest could be growing as people seek healthier and more sustainable foods.
About two billion people across the globe regularly eat insects for their fat, protein, vitamin, mineral and fiber content — and because they're readily available, cheap and sustainable. Westerners, however, haven't been as keen. Research from Wageningen University in the Netherlands last year found about half of respondents didn't want to consume insects in any form, regardless of whether they were an incorporated ingredient or served whole.
In the U.S., a recent survey by the Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics found that people may be a little more willing to experiment. Its data showed that while 57% of U.S. consumers weren't willing to try cookies containing cricket flour after reading a text-only description, that number dropped to 48% after seeing a photo of the cookies. The beautifully photographed and designed cookbook from Seek may help customers get over the "ick" factor hurdle and sell its products.
Despite the cultural squeamishness from some quarters, the future for the sector looks promising. According to Global Market Insights, the global edible insects market could exceed $522 million by 2023, with beetles, grasshoppers, locusts and crickets making up the greatest potential growth areas.
Finland, the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, Australia and Denmark began allowing insects to be raised and marketed for food starting this past fall. Also, a Finnish bakery called Fazer started selling bread containing cricket flour — about 70 crickets per loaf — in 11 of its Helsinki outlets and plans to expand the product to all 47 of its stores this year.
U.S. food makers are also slowly beginning to experiment with cricket flour. Chirps, Bitty Foods and Exo Protein are using it in various products, and MOM's Organic Market started carrying some insect products last year. PepsiCo posted a request on open innovation site NineSights seeking novel protein sources, including insect protein, for possible use in snacks and beverages.