Innovating with crickets
In today’s marketplace, cricket flour is much less expensive than grasshopper flour (about $40 per lb compared to $157 per lb), making it a go-to when it comes to edible insect innovation.
Chapul, the Salt Lake City-based company that proudly “launched the first insect-protein bar in the US” fortified with a signature cricket flour, manufactures the powder in house and sources raw materials from the US and Canada.
Patrick Crowley, with a master’s degree in hydrology, is founder and majority owner of Chapul. “One of the reasons I chose insects was that there was already an infrastructure for the pet feed industry,” Mr. Crowley said. “Some of those cricket farmers have now built extensions to their business. We use the term ‘flour’ versus ‘powder’ since it’s a more recognizable term in the American lexicon that is associated specifically with food.”
Mr. Crowley has long been focused on dwindling global water resources. His hope is his company is “creating market incentives” that will push folks to develop (and consume) alternative protein sources. “One of the biggest needs that insect protein fills is its easy adaptation to climate change,” he said. In the coming year, he hopes to extend the product line to include a water-soluble product to incorporate into beverages.
Coffee flour, hemp and spirulina
Jon Ernesto, bearer of the title “head merchandising nut” at Nuts.com, Cranford, N.J., is certain coffee flour is poised to take off as the next novel protein-rich ingredient. Coffee flour is produced from coffee berries, a waste product of coffee production — it’s the fruit that surrounds the bean; currently, approximately 1.5 billion cubic feet of berries worldwide is going into the waste stream.
“So coffee flour creates a new source of revenue for the farmer from something they would have thrown away,” Mr. Ernesto said.
Nuts.com imports its coffee flour from Guatemala. It may be used for baking and in beverages, in granolas and in chocolates. In fact, according to Mr. Ernesto, there are 4.5 grams of protein in 30 grams of Guatemalan coffee flour; more iron per gram than fresh spinach; more fiber per gram than wheat flour; and more potassium per gram than a banana.
Nuts.com provides a number of “powders” and “flours” that are high in protein, including non-G.M.O. spirulina and hard-to-find hemp protein powder. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that packs 16 grams of protein per 28 grams. Produced from hemp seed, hemp powder packs 15 grams of protein per 1.1 oz, essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a nutty taste.
“However, since there are many restrictions on its production in the U.S., much of it is produced in Canada,” he said.