Cricket flour in pet food presents a new business opportunity. Following the difficulties with worldwide food regulations, edible insects startups are moving toward the pet food market. At least a dozen of dog foods have been released in the past two years. Selling points are pretty much the same: insects as an ingredient are sustainable, nutritionally rich and quite healthy.
And not only small, freshly started companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Corporations like Nestlè (with the Purina brand) and Mars (with a new brand, LoveBug) have just launched innovations with cricket flour, BSB powder or mealworm flour.
BSF powder is cheaper than cricket flour, but will consumers be happy to have larvae from a fly in their beloved pet’s food? This is uncertain. Even the makers may have doubts, which would explains why they rarely call the ingredient Black Soldier Fly larvae, instead using the definition of “insect protein”. Cricket flour has definitely an advantage when it comes to consumer acceptance, compared to BSF.
Claims on these new pet foods seem to focus on the ecological benefits of using insects. Here some tagline’s examples: “food that loves Cats and Planet”, “for happy pets and a healthy planet”, and more creatively, “reduce your global pawprint”.
Protein is also a key element, with almost all products containing between 20 and 30% protein.
All products except Mars’ are for dog. Cats are a smaller market segments, and feline’s dietetically needs are more sophisticated, with amino-acid and other requirements which might be met by cricket flour, but still, it may takes more time to see formulations get there.
Some products clearly aim at taking some of the vegetarian food space. Vegetarian customers often think in terms of reducing cattle, suine and poultry suffering, improving nutrition and sustainability. For their food and that of their pets. These principles are pretty much met by cricket flour and other farmed insects.
PS there are 500 million dogs and cats on the planet and they eat 20% of the meat. Pet food makes 64 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane in the US, the equivalent footprint of almost 14 million cars!