Is the meat market bugging you?

Over the last few years, healthy eating and the sustainable sourcing of food have become hot topics, with a growing number of consumers beginning to consider the impact of their diets on both themselves and the environment, which is reflected by the rise in trends such as veganism and mindful eating. What these conscientious consumers crave is a healthy, protein packed, nutritious food that is ethically and sustainably sourced. Lucky for them, this can be found in their bathrooms and back gardens… that’s right – bugs!

Already viewed as a staple ingredient in many parts of the world, insects are an amazing, low carb source of protein and farming them is far more efficient and sustainable than meat and fish production. However, many of us Westerners are still creeped out by the idea of eating bugs. The perception that insects are ‘gross’ has been a big barrier for brands aiming to introduce bugs to the Western dinner table, as only a minority of early adopters have been brave enough to try them so far.

Nonetheless, as the trends for sustainable and healthy eating continue to grow and spread, so too does the consumption of insects in countries like the UK. This is in part due to new and innovative brands such as Eat Grub and Nutribug, who are making us re-evaluate our attitude towards eating creepy crawlies.

Eat Grub’s bug snacks, such as Sweet Chilli Lime Roasted Crickets, are now widely available to consumers on Ocado and Planet Organic, and have already helped to normalise insect consumption enormously. So far, the key to its success lies with its aspirational and exciting packaging design, combined with its strategic and straightforward message: crickets are much more sustainable compared to meat as a source of natural protein. However, making insects a normal part of people’s diets is still the biggest obstacle for brands like Eat Grub. Although the company has partially overcome this cultural barrier, there is still a long way to go. Perhaps hybrid products, such as Fazar Bakery’s cricket bread and insect craft beer, could help to bridge this gap, as by building bugs into these everyday products, they become naturalised and easier to swallow.

Ultimately, we still aren’t quite ready to make insects a key part of our diets, but current food trends are gradually pushing us to new and unfamiliar products like them. Persistently compelling branding from the likes of Eat Grub and Nutribug, expertly targeted at young, environmentally minded consumers might just provide the gateway needed for bugs to be considered bearable. If insects can become palatable, just think what else we can achieve.

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