Research has shown that crickets are rich in nutrients that are essential to humans. In fact, it has long been flagged around the world as the future of food and has gained popularity in countries such as Canada, Vietnam, and America. Although Australia has been relatively slow in this business, more farms are coming with to provide this product to the market. A farm in Western Australia has been given the green light to sell their cricket protein for human consumption. This means now there are two cricket farms, as up until now just one other edible cricket farm existed in Australia, based in Sydney.
Crickets Turned into Protein Powder
Grubs Up, the new south-west company, has joined the league and it will be producing crickets for protein powder. The company also aims at providing the market with snacks and condiments to enhance cooking. Actually, the company will be concentrating on adding a valuable addition to the products by providing the protein in the form of supplements and condiments. With their protein powder, it will be easy to sell the product in the market, and many will be interested in adding the condiments in various recipes. This approach will definitely give them an edge to the already open market.
According to Paula Pownall, Grubs Up is a venture that has been a long time in the making. She quit her job in 2015 to focus on starting the business. She acknowledges that it was not easy to start it from scratch. She needed to do a lot of research and development of this unique and relatively new business venture. It was hard to have her product declared safe for human consumption, but finally it has been certified to be put in the market. “It means that we can now sell the product and even upscale our production on a commercial level,” she said.
Does It Need Much Space
According to Ms Pownall, a large space is not necessary. You don’t need a large property to have this project running. In fact, you’ll be amazed by the space her cricket farm uses – it’s very small. You can hardly believe that it could be the future of protein farming. She has thousands of crickets live inside re-fitted laundry tubs, stacked on top of each other for maximum utilization of the space. She says that she resulted to what she calls “vertical farm” since she doesn’t have a large property. “But it is sustainable,” she added.
“Space is enough to support the entire process from hatching to harvesting which usually takes six to eight weeks,” she added. She also mentioned other benefits that come with this business such as using recycled food waste, vegetable scraps and fruits and after the harvesting of the crickets; they are able to turn the manure into fertilizer. The fact that crickets barely use any water makes the running of the business quite easy for her. ”About 400 millilitres per 1,000 crickets over their lifespan is all we need,” Ms Pownall said.
Edible Cricket and Fitness Market
One of the largest consumers of cricket protein products in countries such as Canada and the United States is the fitness market. These are niches where the consumption of proteins is very high but this might not be the case in Australia. According to Ms Pownall, convincing Australians to stomach a mouthful of crunchy crickets could prove difficult. That’s the reason why she is grinding down the product to sell it in the form of powder. This will make it easy for the consumer to buy the product without the “image” of the cricket. She also mentions that the cricket products will have an advantage over the available proteins in the market since the powder will actually be 69 per cent protein while rest are actually only 30 per cent. “This is how rich crickets are in protein,” she added.
“On top of that, cricket powder is full of amino acids, high in vitamin B12 and Folate,” she added. According to James Trenow, health and fitness personal trainer, there is a big demand for sustainable products such as cricket vitamin. “Although whey vitamin is predominantly used at the moment, people are moving towards sustainable proteins like plant based, and most recently cricket protein,” he said. He mentions that people’s reaction to cricket proteins is a bit grossed out, but maybe later down the track, they will be more open to it.
Cricket Protein and Animal feed
Apart from human consumption, Ms Pownall notes that she can get into animal feeds. Some animals such as commercial pigs and poultry need proteins to fatten, and this product is perfect for that. With her agricultural background, she believes that she can work with other cricket breeders who are in the animal feed business. She believes that her business will expand rapidly if she could gain such partners.
Although she was in the start-up stage, the support and interest is overwhelming. With the high demand both from the internal and external markets; we believe this business will definitely be a success.