Cricket powder ticks all the right boxes when it comes to nutrition and sustainability. It’s low in fat but high in protein (60-70%), packed with calcium, iron, and vitamin B12, and greener than many rival protein sources, as crickets are super-efficient at converting feed into food, require less land and water than cattle or pigs, and emit fewer greenhouse gases, Tiny Farms co-founder Daniel said Imrie-Situnayake told delegates.
Indeed, despite the ‘ick’ factor, large food and beverage companies – as well as hipster start-ups in Brooklyn and San Francisco – have already started playing around with samples, he added.
However, prices need to come down before big food companies see cricket powder as a viable ingredient, said Imrie-Situnayake - who started Tiny Farms in 2012 with web-designer friends Andrew and Jena Brentano - is looking at every aspect of the process from what insects are fed to how they are raised, killed, heat-treated/dehydrated, ground up, packaged and transported, in order to identify the optimal process.
"What we’re doing is borrowing strategies from the technology industry where rapid improvements are built into the way people work – using data to optimize everything they do. So we’re saying how can we collect as much data as possible about every aspect of the functioning of the farm, and learn from that to improve yields and protein content and quality?"