Interview with Damien Huysmans, founder (with his wife Anne) and Ceo at Green Kow
You are one of the pioneers of entomophagy in Europe, so let’s know when and how edible insects came into your life.
When we started in 2011, with some scientists in academic research laboratories, everyone said: “Insects are fantastic not only on a nutritional level, but farming them has a very low impact on the environment. This will certainly be the food of the future”.
We heard this for thirty or forty years! But that future never arrives…
Anne and I have said “The future is now! Edible insects: it’s good to talk about them, but above all to act upon them and eat them”. So in 2012 we’ve founded The Green Kow Company.
What made you understand that edible insects could also be a business?
First of all, as I said, we wanted to act. But we early had our particular marketing vision of the question.
For us Westerners, it is not easy to eat the whole insect because we have lost the habit. Furthermore, when you eat a steak, no one shows you the dead cow full of blood… We chose to develop products (specialty foods) containing insects mixed in herbal preparations. Starting with our spreads: Carrot-Mealworm and Tomato-Mealworm. Easy-to-use products and easy to share with relatives, friends, colleagues… Simple, “friendly” flavors that suggest tastes of childhood. But also extremely well “built” because we have the chance to work with the Belgian double star Michelin Chef: Sang Hoon Degeimbre (l’Air du Temps in Liernu – Belgium). And other products we are developing, based on the same philosophy, will follow soon. We are eager to help you discover them!
But please note, we do not intend to be smarter than other producers. We just simply apply our way of integrating insects in our food. And there is certainly room for other views and therefore, other producers and other products… After all, it is neither the farmers nor the producers or distributors who create the market but the consumers. They choose attractive products, they choose which they will buy, which will please them (or not) and which they (hopefully) will adopt.
What are the products Green Kow is acutally marketing?
Of course, our 2 first products : spreads (Tomato-Mealworm & Carott-Mealwrom).
At the very beginning we had also chocolate spreads. But they were not 100% ready for the market. So we work on a next commercial version at this moment.
There are also other products we are working on. But they are still “secret”.
What’s your “best seller” product?
This is of course a commercial secret.
I’m sure you can understand that we have no intention to give our best ideas to other producers…
Is Europe your main market?
Yes. And it is already difficult enough! Because of the Novel food regulation. And also several cultural food habits.
But the european market presents also many opportunities. Many consumers with high education and economic level, global market, relatively small geographical area (proximity) with easy transportation, etc.
Do you think that the EU should pay more (and more quickly) attention to the edible insects industry?
Things are going nicely. Look at the things we’ve already done since 2012 (since the edition of the “big bugs book” of the FAO)!!
Of course things could always go faster. But we have to understand that all this evolution have to take place in a particular cultural environment.
What I see and experiment on european level is that the health authorities understand better and better that insect as food (and feed) presents huge opportunities. But of course, we (the insects industry) have to understand that things have to be done in a particular way to ensure food secutity. And it’s not always good to go fast. Because we have to build something very strong.
What’s the real economic potential of this sector?
Nobody really knows… Imagine 4 years ago, everybody said “In the future, we’ll eat insects” and there was nearly no edible insect to find in an European shop.
But I’m sure this market could someday be at the same level than the “veggy” one (veggy prepared food).
Will entomophagy be normally practiced in Europe in ten years?
Difficult to say. Probably more at the north of the EU than in the south. And we have indeed some years to take our “regular” place in the food market.
And I hope the transition will happen more by understanding food and environment challenges (and even by taste) than by obligation.