Anyone for cricket?

Having spent the last couple of weeks getting to grips with my new role, this week I visited Leatherhead Food Research in Surrey to tour the facilities and find out what the company has been up to recently.

Whilst there I was asked, “How would you feel about drinking a cricket smoothie?” Being new to the industry, I didn’t want to appear unenthusiastic so I was willing (albeit reluctantly) to give it a go. However, I was relieved to learn it wasn’t on the menu that day!

Conscious of global population growth and a shortage of sustainable sources of protein, the company has looked at insects as a potential solution to the problem. I’ll admit, I didn’t expect much nutritional value from a cricket, but I discovered that they not only earn ‘high in protein’ claims but also can be labelled ‘high in iron’.

With recent research from the company revealing a third of consumers sampled think that insects are a viable source of food, and four in ten accept insects as a good source of protein, the Leatherhead innovation team was challenged to design a tasty product that included sufficient insect protein to permit ‘high in protein’ and ‘high in iron’ claims.

For recipe development, crickets were converted to a powdered form and blended with fruit juices to create the cricket smoothie. Working with Leatherhead Food Research’s regulatory team, the precise volume of cricket powder required was calculated per 250g portion of smoothie to ensure that the claims, pictorial representation, product name and communication plans were compliant with the relevant regulations and marketing codes.

Would you try the cricket smoothie? Whilst insects are considered a nutritious snack in some parts of the world, research from the company showed that just 13 per cent of UK consumers thought it was acceptable to eat insects as part of their diet. I think I’m in that 13 per cent!

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