Canada’s largest grocer believes Canadians are ready to cook with crickets and is bringing the alternative protein ingredient to grocery shelves under its President Choice label.
A number of companies already sell various insect protein products, like mealworm bolognese sauce and honey-mustard flavoured whole crickets. But Loblaw Companies Ltd.’s announcement signifies more Canadians appear to be willing to munch on insects.
President’s Choice is always looking to bring what’s new and next to Canadians, said Kathlyne Ross, Loblaw’s vice-president of product development and innovation.
“We are giving Canadians the option to not only try something new, but to also make a conscious decision on what they eat and how it impacts the environment.”
Proponents of entymophagy, a name for the eating of insects, say it has environmental and health benefits. Insect farming tends to produce less greenhouse gases, and requires less feed, water and land than more traditional livestock. Companies selling insect products tout their high-protein content.
The crickets used for the powder come from Norwood, Ont.-based Entomo Farms.
The farm started in January 2014 and has grown from 464 square metres to 6,100, said co-founder Jarrod Goldin. There’s plans for expanding further, with another 3,700 square metres soon to be built out, he said.
For reference, 2,800 square metres house about 100 million crickets, Goldin said.
Entomo sells cricket and mealworm products, like protein powder and whole-roasted mealworms, under its own brand name on its website and at various grocery stores _ though no national chains, he said.
Cricket powder is really malleable, he said, and can be added to most anything people already eat.
Goldin sprinkles some on top of plain yogurt and berries for breakfast, for example. It can be baked into pizza crusts, added to pancake mix or put into a chili recipe.
The only limit is imagination, he said.
The taste varies based on concentration. A small amount won’t add any flavour, Goldin said, otherwise “it has a very lovely, earthy, nutty, mushroom-ey kind of flavour.”
The Loblaw deal has been in the works for years, Goldin said, and he’s hopeful it’s the first of many insect-protein products the national grocer will stock.
Loblaw described the partnership as “its first move into sustainable insect protein.”
It may not be the only large grocery chain to start selling insects.
Metro Inc. doesn’t currently carry any such products, said spokeswoman Sadie Weinstein in an email.
“But we’re always assessing food trends and might look to carry some of these products in the future.”