Wholifoods currently has around 500 crispbread products in stock that it will soon make available online and plans a wider upscale when it secures a retail listing, likely in Denmark or Germany in the coming months.
The savoury crispbread is made using Canada-sourced cricket flour, chickpea flour and organic seeds. Per 100g, it contains 25g protein; 20g fibre; the daily dose of vitamin B12 and a significant part of a person's daily iron requirement. Lab testing is also underway to quantify omega-3 levels, thought to be between 70-80mg per 100g – “quite a lot for crispbread,” said Malena Sigurgeirsdotti, co-founder of Wholifoods.
Sigurgeirsdotti, who has a background in nutrition and seven years of insect research behind her, told NutraIngredients: “Crickets are related to shellfish, so omega-3 is just a natural part of them.”
Protein and fibre - easier stories to tell
Despite having a strong and varied micronutrient profile, the crispbreads would primarily be positioned as high in protein and fibre. Asked why, she said: “Honestly? People understand protein very easily. Omega-3 people know too but with vitamin B12 and iron, the majority don't understand they need to eat it. So, it's still a communication problem for us. We think it's important and we want it on the packaging but we also want to position ourselves strongly – the product needs to speak for itself.”
The crispbreads, also gluten-free and lactose-free, would likely be stocked in free-from sections in regular retailers, she said, but should garner interest with a wide audience.
“At least in Scandinavia, crispbread is a big part of lunchtime – it's something you eat a lot. We're trying to move closer to making everyday foods with insects. ...It's nice to have a product that fits in bigger retail stores because we want to normalise something; we want the crispbreads to be where everyday people go to do groceries. So, we see a very big volume potential for this product.”
Despite a relatively wide target consumer group, Sigurgeirsdotti said the crispbread would still likely hold stronger appeal amongst health-conscious and active consumers who already consume health foods.
A transition towards meat alternative goal
Wholifoods started its insect journey back in January 2017 with the launch of a high-end sweet snack 'Dare Squares' made from cricket and buffalo worm flour, now available in high-end speciality retailers, gift shops and departments stores across Denmark, Germany and the UK. Following this, it developed nutritional 'Buff Bars', made from buffalo worm larvae, to target the on-the-go energy market.
Sigurgeirsdotti said the crispbread product was the brand's first venture into the everyday food segment and took Wholifoods in the right direction for its long-term project to develop an insect-based meat replacement.
“The crispbread is a transition. It's important to create these products in order to create a meat replacement that people will eat. They have to try bugs and realise it's not scary but rather delicious and nutritious.”
Set to launch in 2020, Wholifoods' 'Manna' meat replacement product was currently being developed with two ideas – one similar to tofu or haloumi and the other closer to chicken or minced meat.
“Right now, we don't know if it's important that it looks and tastes like meat. That's something we're going to test, because we'll have both prototypes ready in a month's time,” she said.