Until recently, bug eating in the United States was more closely associated with reality show competitions and fraternity hazings than with energy bars and coconut–chocolate chip cookies. But with the burgeoning success of several bug-laden food companies, human insect consumers seem to be on the rise.
And wherever there is a marketable product, there is a supply chain. In this case, entrepreneurs like Exotic Proteins are rushing to feed America’s newfound hunger for edible insects.
Turns out that a whole ecosystem—including, of course, bug business consultants—has sprung up to prop up the estimated $20 million and growing industry.
One of the most challenging issues facing this new, rapidly growing industry is record-keeping. In order to comply with food safety standards, everything the crickets eat or do must be logged. And because the life cycle of insects is so distinct from those of traditional livestock—it takes less than seven weeks for a cricket to grow to its ideal, tastiest age
Once the "harvested," frozen crickets leave the farm, they move one step further along the edible-insect production pipeline. Fast-growing food businesses don’t have the time or facilities to roast and grind thousands of pounds of insects a month—they need access to already processed ingredients, like the finely milled cricket powder
two years researching and finessing the process of making the most nutrient-dense cricket powder possible. methods are proprietary,
anticipates sales to increase from 6,000 pounds in 2014 to 60,000 pounds in 2015.
It’s this sort of growth that has insect entrepreneurs convinced that eating bugs is not a trend, but an inevitability. "Cricket meal will be a commodity traded on the stock market, just like oil, orange juice, and coffee,"
(Premium, human-grade cricket flour currently sells for $30-$40 a pound. Wholesale.)
the food startups they worked with had very specific requests about the diet of the crickets bound for their products. Though the Goldin family had long operated a separate pet-feed cricket farm, they had never before been asked to raise their crickets on a non-GMO or gluten-free diet. the farm will often customize the feed according to particular company’s needs. "If people want a higher vitamin A profile, we'll feed them carrots," he says. "We have distinct lines where we feed the crickets cinnamon and apples, and the flour takes on an apple and cinnamon flavor."