The owner of North America's first human-grade insect farm said he is hoping a recent announcement from one of the country's biggest retailers will have a big impact on his business.
Jarrod Goldin, with Entomo Farms in Southern Ontario, said he was very excited when he heard Loblaw Companies Ltd. would be adding cricket powder to its lineup of President's Choice products. The crickets used in the President's Choice powder will be sourced from Goldin's farm.
"When you have a Loblaws or a President's Choice, with a trusted brand that people know and love, put their brand behind the category, it's a game changer," Goldin said.
In a statement, Loblaw said the cricket flour is high in protein and packed with vitamins and minerals. Cricket powder also has a "neutral flavour," making it a versatile ingredient for many kinds of recipes. Crickets are also more sustainable than other forms of animal protein, because they require less food and water.
"Hopefully our feeling that there is a lot of pent up demand from people who are interested in healthy, sustainable food is true," Goldin said. "It's just a matter of them having access to other choices that are healthy and sustainable."
The Goldin family has been in the cricket business for roughly 10 years. The first six years were focused on raising food for reptiles, but four years ago Goldin formed a partnership with his brother and together they transitioned their business to focus on human and stock feed.
"We're not against cows or the meat industry or anything like that," he said. "This is just a compliment to protein and it has its own set of valued propositions."
Goldin said raising cricket has a far lower carbon footprint than other farmed meat. When Goldin and his brother embarked with their new business four years, the farm was roughly 5,000 sqare feet, but it has now grown to 60,000 square feet. Goldin said the brothers have retro-fitted abandoned chicken barns for their operation.
"By head of livestock we may be the largest farm in the world, because there's about 35 million crickets in each 20,000 square foot facility," he said.
Goldin said there are no limitations for a cricket farm's location, so long as the operator can provide enough space and has a suitable heating system to recreate the insects' natural tropical environment.
"The more you get, the more refined you get, and obviously you are trying to maximize yields," he said.
A spokesperson for Saskatchewan's Ministry of Agriculture said no Saskatchewan entrepreneurs have yet expressed interest in cricket farming.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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