Jiminy Crickets! The truth about bugs as food …
of our food supply chain is still a psychological stretch.
For Loblaw though, it’s about health and sustainability, and the case for crickets is very compelling. A 2.5-tablespoon serving has 90 calories and 13 grams of protein. It also contains enough vitamin B12 to carry you through the day. Per kilogram, crickets contain as much protein as pork. The University of Oxford published a very compelling study on the nutritional value of crickets versus meat products. Measuring protein content, vitamins, sugar and fat, crickets end up ahead in most categories.
Insects are better at converting feed to protein than larger livestock. Entomo Farms, based in Norwood, Ont., supplies the product to Loblaw. Operations in Norwood have grown by 12 times since 2014, as the demand for crickets grows exponentially. Because crickets can reproduce very quickly and take up very little space, the crop is incredibly efficient. Currency for crickets is rising, on both sides of the supply-demand continuum.
While some studies point out limitations around cricket consumption, scientific consensus is building. It’s not surprising then, that Loblaw has been looking at this for a few years.
Loblaw is testing consumers’ curiosity and willingness to explore new dietary options. But they’re not exactly giving the product away. When launched, the retail price point was almost $16 for a 113-gram bag. The price dropped to $14 just a few days later.
Given how inexpensive cricket production is, margins are likely high because of the shelf space sacrificed to stock this item.
Cricket flour can be used in smoothies, yogurt, soups, oatmeal and baked goods, among many other things. And with its neutral flavour, it won’t spoil the taste.
But Loblaw is bold to put a picture of a cricket on a package with its prized President’s Choice brand logo.
This shift also speaks to how our relationship with food is changing. Aesthetics, flavour, price and convenience remain the major factors in choosing the food we eat. But the nutritional content of every single ingredient in our foods is gaining more attention.
From our perspective, crickets don’t look appetizing. But neither did lobster at one time. Lobsters, once known as the cockroaches of the sea, are now consumed as a delicacy. Demand is also up for weird-looking species like