What started as a novelty has turned into a viable business selling edible creepy crawlies. Matt Genefaas and Dan Craig have been running edible insect business Eat Crawlers for five years. In that time, they have seen it grow 100% year on year as more Kiwis add insects into their diets.
Do you think edible bugs are an important part of our future diets?
As New Zealanders start shifting towards more sustainable food sources, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about eating insects. In the beginning, we were selling fun and quirky products like scorpion lollipops and chocolate-covered tarantulas. But the day is coming where it’s not a novelty any more. Initially, the easiest one to get people’s heads around is cricket flour, made from ground crickets, which can be used in baking or smoothies.
How are Kiwis responding to edible bugs – are attitudes shifting?
Yes definitely. We’ve been doing consumer expos like Taste of Auckland and The Food Show as a way to get Eat Crawlers out there. We noticed in the first few years we spent a lot of time talking to people and educating them about edible insects, about why, and how etc. But at Taste of Auckland last year, we had people coming up to us telling us about cricket flour. So I think we’ve done a good job talking about insects and associating it with protein as a supplement. I think this will continue in the next one to two years with more and more homes consuming cricket flour regularly.
Where do your insects come from?
We source from across Asia, but the majority comes from Thailand. They’ve been farming insects in those places for hundreds of years, and they’re set up to do it in the volumes that we are requiring. At present, there aren’t any insect farms in New Zealand. It’s interesting, we see New Zealand as a clean green environmentally focused country but our biggest export industry – beef and dairy – creates so much toxic waste. Edible insects are a food source that’s sustainable and ethical and just as importantly, good for you too.
In the future, what do you think our diets might look like?
I think there’ll be more focused on plant-based diets, and we do see entomophagy, or eating insects, as an important part of our diets in the future. I don’t think we’ll necessarily see people eating bowls full of crickets, but we’re working on a range of products that are high protein and delicious and will be served everywhere from the kitchen table to fine dining restaurants.
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