French start-up Jimini’s currently sells insect-based snacks and processed foods in five markets: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark.
Ramping up its presence in Europe, the company is now expanding into Spain having secured a listing with Carrefour to supply items to 300 of its stores in the Mediterranean market.
“We are proud and excited to enter the Spanish market and to be the first company to sell insects in Spain,” Scellier told FoodNavigator.
Carrefour Spain is the first retailer in the country to offer insect-based products and it would appear to be dedicating significant shelf space to the initiative. “For the first time in Europe, a supermarket chain is launching our whole assortment of edible insects. From our whole seasoned insect snacks to pasta, bars and granolas,” Scellier said.
“Our offer is designed to address several needs. Our insect snacks will join crisps, famous pipas and tapas [while] Jimini’s protein energy bars and granola will be perfect for breakfast or before going to the gym. And our pasta is a first substitute to meat with 18% of protein.”
As a trailblazer in the insect-based food space, Scellier conceded it is a “real challenge” for Jimini’s to make consumers “change their minds” about insects. Nevertheless, he insisted, insects answer concerns around health and sustainability that are important to European consumers.
“Consumers do care about the environment and nutrition issues and we are sure our products will be appreciated on a long run after the first 'novelty effect' ends.
“[Acceptance] will take time as it did with sushi and raw fish. Insects have a great environmental potential and are a great source of protein, minerals, vitamins, unsaturated fat and omegas. They won’t substitute all other protein sources, of course, but we do believe insects will find their place and be a part of our diets in the next five years. It has taken 15 years for sushi to be mainstream, we think insects will be quicker.”
Consumer acceptance and awareness can be fostered through education and Jimini’s focuses on explaining the benefits of insects, reassuring consumers and “playing down” the significance of the switch, the entrepreneur suggested. Looking specifically at Spain, Scellier said the company will move quickly to “duplicate the five years education work” undertaken in the French market in “a shorter period”.
“This first step with Carrefour Spain is a great opportunity to advertise the environmental and nutritional benefits of edible insects in Spain. Even if we don’t expect to see insects in every Spanish home within the next six months, we believe it is a major step forward for the insect industry.”
Moving in on the multiples
France remains Jimini’s largest market in terms of volume and value. The group’s products are available at over 350 outlets, with a wide network of independent retailers and 90 Nature & Découvertes stores counted as stockists.
The Spanish listing is something of a game-changer because it is Jimini’s first move into the European retail multiples. For Scellier, this represents a learning opportunity and the group plans to kick-off sampling in Spanish stores in the near future. “We are acquiring a know-how on almost all aspects of the retail business, from logistics to merchandising.”
It is too early to say whether Jimini’s will be able to leverage this new relationship to expand further in Europe, he added. However, Jimini’s is “always” working to expand its presence into additional European markets.
“We are waiting for the harmonisation of the legal statue of edible insects in Europe. Once this happens, we will be able to operate in every European country and meet the demand of new clients.”
Scale delivers competitive pricing
Jimini’s operates a 600 square metre production line near Paris where it produces branded products as well as white label items for retailers. It also collaborates with much larger companies, working with the likes of PepsiCo to develop market insights.
Future expansion will rely on increased insect breeding capacity from its suppliers. However, Jimini’s already manufactures at a scale that supports a price point comparable to other protein sources.
”Our insect powder-based products are fitting with the average price on the market. Our protein bars cost €2 and are made with organic ingredients. Of course, the price of whole insects will decrease little by little, but the process of dehydration is quite expensive, and it is not nutritionally useful to eat 100g of insects as a snack. That is why comparing whole insects with a beefsteak doesn’t make any sense,” Scellier suggested.
Expanding into new eating occasions
As well as geographical expansion, Jimini’s plans to grow scale by focusing its innovation efforts on entering new consumption occasions.
“NPD is quite crucial for us, as it enables to access new markets, needs and meal times. Our mission is to incorporate slowly insects in our daily diets in order to take advantage of their nutritional, environmental and taste advantages. The more insect-based product available the easier it will get to incorporate a sustainable protein into your daily consumption,” Scellier explained.
For this reason, the company sees the development of “insect-based meat analogues” as “a huge part” of its future. “The objective in the medium run is to be able to serve a complete and sustainable protein source in order to diverse our food mix.”
Jimini’s is working in collaboration with AgroParisTech and INRA to this end.
“It's going well,” Scellier confirmed. “Nowadays, we see some insect galettes, being plant based galettes [crusty cakes] enriched with insect flour. However, we want to go further. Jimini’s aims to texturize the insect protein in order to get a similar chew, taste and texture as meat.
The future ‘Insteak’ as this is still in development.”