As sustainable as soy and as nutritious as meat: crickets combine the best of both worlds. For Belgian bar and granola producer Kriket, eating insects should become as normal as eating shrimp.
A company with a mission
They are a source of protein, rich in fibre, contain no additives and are produced in Belgium. Moreover, they are organic and sustainable. We are talking about the bars and granolas of Kriket. The most special ingredient? Crickets. This is a company with a mission: “We want to make eating insects mainstream. It should become as normal as eating shrimp”, co-founder Michiel Van Meervenne says. He started the cricket adventure with his sister Anneleen in 2017 and will be speaking at the RetailDetail Food Congress on 9 June.
In 2018, Kriket launched its first cricket bar. Meanwhile, the brand’s granola and snack bars are already on the shelves at retailers such as Colruyt, Bio-Planet, Aveve and AS Adventure, as well as online. In addition, the company is taking its first steps abroad, exporting to the Netherlands, France and Germany. “The protein transition is a story that can only go one way: that of growth. Insects deserve a unique place in that story”, Van Meervenne believes. “Especially crickets: they remind people more of shrimp and therefore scare people less than, say, worms.”
Gigantic nutritional value
But why are insects such an interesting ingredient? “Plant proteins are a fantastic alternative to meat, but you cannot ignore the fact that vegetarians and vegans lack vitamin B12, and that minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc are also less well absorbed in a plant-based diet. It is obvious why people have eaten meat for many thousands of years: it is, after all, enormously nutritious.”
Insects are just as nutritious as meat, but without the drawbacks that make us want to get rid of meat: think of the high carbon emissions, water consumption, land use… “Actually, an insect is on the same level as plant proteins in terms of sustainability – a cricket even uses less water than soy for the same amount of protein – but you do have that huge nutritional value. A cricket has that unique position between the animal and the vegetable and thus unites the best of both worlds. We are now seeing this market segment grow enormously and we are sure it will continue to evolve.”
Premium, but not expensive
The market experienced its first insect hype around 2016: insect-based burgers, snacks and spreads appeared in just about all supermarkets, but disappeared from the shelves just as quickly. Michiel Van Meervenne draws lessons from the mistakes that were made back then.
“Price is a very important factor. You can present a beautiful sustainability story to the consumer, but we know that sustainability is only ranked fifth or sixth in the shopper’s purchasing decision. At the time, for example, you saw a spread made from insects that was literally twice as expensive as other spreads. Curious consumers will try it once, but would not buy it again – not because they did not like it, but because they find the price unjustifiable.”
Kriket therefore opts for premium positioning in categories where brands can achieve a nice rotation at a higher price point. “We prefer not to be the most expensive, that would be an additional obstacle.”
No finger pointing
A second factor is the taste of the products. “A product is not going to sell just because there are bugs in it. We have to prove that food based on insects can be really tasty.” And marketing is a third element: the storytelling has to be right. “A brand is more than a product and a price. You can focus on sustainability, but consumers do not like the finger pointed at them. We don’t do that. We try to be a fun brand, not pushy.”
We also have to be patient, Michiel Van Meervenne thinks. Food is cultural, we are going through a kind of cultural revolution. That takes time: “I make the comparison with sushi: that was not popular in Belgium overnight either, it took a decade to break through. Now you see it in every supermarket.”
Familiar sales channels
Kriket also wants to reach that point: “One of the reasons why people have not yet tasted insects is because they have not yet found them in the stores. That is why we resolutely go for an omnichannel strategy. We want to connect with our target group: people in their twenties, thirties or forties who are open to innovation and have an active lifestyle. We believe that consumers will be psychologically more open to a product if they encounter it in channels they trust, like a Colruyt supermarket or Aveve garden centre.”
Why crickets deserve a prominent place in the food system of the future and how Kriket wants to contribute to that? Michiel Van Meervenne will be telling more about this at the RetailDetail Food Congress, which will take place in Antwerp on 9 June. Also on stage that day: speakers from Deloitte, Delhaize, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Pieter Pot, VLAM, Gorillas and Mosa Meat. A must for every food professional! You can order advantageous early bird tickets until 18 May by clicking on the button below.