Eat what bugs you: Entomophagy and its potential in American markets

Wednesday, November 19, 2014: 1:55 PM
Portland Ballroom 253 (Oregon Convention Center)
Laura D'Asaro , Six Foods, Northeast Seattle, WA
Rose Wang , Six Foods, Northeast Seattle, WA
Currently the livestock industry uses 70% of arable land and produces 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  These environmental constraints will only worsen as the global demand for meat doubles by 2050.  The UN FAO has identified insects as a sustainable and healthy protein source to help address these issues.  Insects can use up to 1000x less water, produce 100x fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and are often more protein-dense than beef.  Yet, entomophagy is a foreign concept to Western consumers. At Six Foods, we are developing a market strategy to change the West’s perception of entomophagy and bring bugs to market. 

We believe insects must enter food discretely and be delicious, so our first product is the Chirp Cricket Chip.  Chirps are 20% cricket flour, which gives them 3x the protein of most chips, and makes eating insects approachable.  Market research suggests that over 50% of American consumers would try Chirps, and in addition to other funding, we crowd-sourced over $60,000 in 30 days to bring Chirps to market.  Concurrently, we are developing products to help replace a proportion of conventional meat with entomeat.

While these successes have been encouraging, large gaps in the science of entomophagy remain unmet.  The allergen profile, nutrient absorption, and mass-farming techniques for many insects are unknown, and advances in these sciences would help expand the number of available insects and facilitate FDA regulation.  Through partnering business with science, Six Foods hopes to help make entomophagy a significant and