Interview with Kelly Sturek, BugeaterFoods founder
Tell us shortly about the idea behind the company and why you decided to invest in the edible insects business
I think the important thing for me was that we could actually build this. We can make products, we can make them taste good and we can sell them. We are a diverse team with Food Science, Business and Design backgrounds and we all wanted to do this. We realized we can make a difference in the world and this industry. We want to make cool things and feed people.
Why you bet on insects-based protein shakes?
The Idea at the time was that it was unique and it was the fastest and easiest thing to make. No big and long processes just the mixture of the right ingredients to make a good product. It was also a test. “Will people in the west, more specifically midwest, eat insects, and will they buy them from us, a bunch of 22 year old college kids?” We found out that Yes! they will, even in grocery stores.
Which is your best-seller flavour?
Personally my favorite is the Coffee flavour. We tested many flavours and variations to get it just right. We also added caffeine for the coffee addicts as we are. It also got a great response. People like the flavor and like the caffeine. It’s a morning favorite not only for us but for our customers too.
You made many “taste-tests”, what’s the normal reaction when people try your shakes for the first time?
It really depends if we tell them what it is or not. If we tell them before we get 3 types of people.
Tell me more!
And it’s all pretty even ⅓ will say Hell yea! and ⅓ will say Hell no! The tell-me-more people are a bit more fun. Once you tell them insects are raised for human consumption, about their low environmental impact and about their nutritional values, almost everyone decide to try them.
For the ones we don’t tell before about insects as ingredient in what they’re drinking, they just think it’s a good-tasting food product.
What are your projects for the future?
We have a big USDA project we are working on to make rice and pasta products. We see a lot of potential in not only consumer products but aid/relief products too. Half of the world’s population subsists on rice and we are making it better. This can also include rice-based products such as Ramen noodles for example.
Are you interested in the EU market?
Of course it might take some time but we’ll make it there. We have gotten some initial interest to export our product so we know we have potential in the EU. Also with recent rulings it’s been getting a lot more exciting.
What do you think about the future of entomophagy in the West?
We think the potential to make insects into anything is limitless. While whole insects might not catch on we think making products that look like what people eat already, makes for an easy transition into entomophagy. Rice, pasta, meat-like products, protein shakes, bars and anything else we can think of we can make it out of insects to make it sustainable, healthy and great tasting. That is how people will get into it.