A startup is raising crickets for use as an protein-rich additive in flour and other products
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Spotted: At Origen Farms, there are no stockyards, pens or barns full of feed grain. Instead, there are plastic tubs and the structures of an industrial estate. That’s because Origen rears crickets, specifically house crickets, of the species Acheta domesticus. The farm is part of a growing movement promoting the use of insects as a source of protein.
Founded around two years ago, the startup produces three tonnes of crickets every 35 days. Most of the insects are ground into a protein-rich flour which can then be used as an additive in a wide variety of foods, including pasta, energy bars and tortilla chips. The remainder are dried and packaged as snacks or frozen and shipped as animal feed.
The farm, founded by three friends, who invested in the equipment and materials used to grow the crickets. They have sold around seven tonnes of frozen crickets so far. However, sales have been hampered somewhat by a Spanish law that does not allow insects to be processed into flour for human consumption. Instead, the frozen crickets are shipped to the Netherlands, where they are turned into flour before being returned to Spain.
The trio plan to sell the flour and cricket-enhanced products, and are working on finding investors for two franchise sites for investors with €300,000 and an urge to raise crickets. Co-founder García de Lis told the Guardian that, “The future is going to depend on how things go, but our aim is to find partners who will help us expand our ideas in other countries, and develop other lines with resources derived from crickets and other insects, such as frass [insect faeces] for agricultural fertiliser, chitin and meat substitutes.”
Origen are not alone in their drive to use insects for food – a number of companies in Europe and elsewhere are also growing the critters, although primarily for use in pet food or animal feed. Springwise has recently covered a French company that is raising mealworms for use in animal and plant feed and a countertop nest that allows people to grow mealworms at home.