Are healthy snacks the answer to finding insect acceptance?

In addition to the nutritional and sustainability aspects of bugs, they also offer a range of flavours for product development.

26 March 2019
healthinsectsNPDsnacking

Insects have been a hard sell to date, but could positioning them as a healthy snack be the winning formula?

A new food brand called Crické is certainly hoping it will do the trick. It specialises in insect-based savoury snacks and has launched its product line to “challenge the UK’s healthy snack market with outrageous taste.”

The range includes three cricket crackers in trendy flavours like nigella and onion, sunflower and chia, and ginger and chilli, while tortilla chips come sprinkled either in chilli or sea salt.

Although the flavours of insects vary due to factors like the species, diet and culinary preparation, Crické said its crickets have a hazelnut or dried fruit taste. The start-up's Italian chef uses a fine cricket powder that adds a smooth nutty flavour to its products, with crackers containing 15% cricket flour, semi-wholegrain wheat flour, sesame seeds, yeast, salt and sugar.

The products are now on sale in selected food shops in London, including The Grocery in Shoreditch.

Sneaking insects in

The snacks deliver insect-based nutrition in a discrete form that helps people overcome their taboo, according to the company. In particular, their snacks have 80% to 200% more protein content than comparable products, it claims.

The business cites different sources of protein to back up its claim, with a beef steak providing 25g of protein, poultry 11g, pork loin 27g and pork sausage 11g, while 100g of crickets can contain up to 70g of protein.

Really pushing the health aspect, its crackers and chips are also dairy-free with no added sugar, nor are artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives used. They are high in vitamin B12, iron, phosphorus and potassium too.

Crickets also have the same amount of B12 as salmon and more calcium than milk, it adds. (Crické notes, however, that people who are allergic to crustacean shellfish may also be allergic to crickets.)

The company believes the time to tackle squeamishness over insects could be now as health is currently driving innovation in the snacking industry, while sustainability is also a hot topic.

Surprising flavours

Insect consumption is “one potential answer to reducing our carbon footprint while still maintaining a diet high in protein and other fundamental nutrients,” Crické explained.

“Cricket farming has an extremely low environmental impact. Crickets require drastically less land, water, feed and energy than traditional protein sources,” it said.

One third of emerged lands is already being used for meat production, while on average, 200sqm of land are used to produce 1kg of beef. When it comes to insects 15sqm are enough, according to the company.

Crické’s insects are sourced from a certified supplier who grows them in a controlled environment and lowers the temperature to kill them – avoiding any type of microbe contamination.

There are more than 2,000 different species of insects consumed in the world and each of them has a particular flavour: from bacon to cheese, not to mention wood, honey and shrimp, revealed Crické – plenty of avenues for future product development.

 

Food files

  • 86% of millennials eat between mealtimes versus 60% of baby boomers
  • 81% of millennials and 66% of baby boomers purchase food based on protein content 
  • In the UK, there are 22m flexitarians. For those under 25 years, environmental benefits are the leading factor to flex
  • 42% of Brits are willing to try insects

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