Interview with Antti Reen, cofounder of Griinsect
Tell us about Griinsect and how you got involved in the edible insect world
Griinsect is a company founded by enthusiastic, young but experienced people involved in the food business. This is a strong story of networking and the founding members create kind of a coalition of four entities. All of us are interested in making change, but everyone of us in his own fields. While one has the expertise and history in distribution, and food marketing in the Nordics, the other runs a small chain of coffee houses and develops businesses in Helsinki area. But this would not make it without people who know how to grow insects and beyond that, already have a business-concept for that! We were already there, but something was missing, and it was the culinary know-how. We knew that there was a teacher and super-chef in the most appreciated culinary school of Finland who had been working with edible insects for several years and knew how to make them taste awesome.
We sat down together and thought that if the legislation ever changes, we can make an influence and we can start to create awesome products for future consumers. We are value-driven group of people and we really want to affect on things and make a difference. This is our way to fight the climate change and to make people to think what they eat.
What products are you marketing?
We launched our first product, Northern Forest cricket crackers, in the end of 2017. It took our chef around 500 hours to finish the recipe. There is more to come. There is a growing need for more local insects and when our volumes grow, we can broaden our distribution first to Finland and then to other countries as well. We aim to have the best brand, best growing methods and the broadest network of growers in Europe by the year 2020.
What’s your position in relation to the Novel Food regulation?
The Finnish food regulators interpret the novel food regulation very openly and it is allowed to produce and market insects as a food for people in Finland, which gives us very good position in the future markets internationally.
How is the consumers’ acceptance in your country?
We feel privileged to work in Finland right now, because people are very keen on trying insects and getting more familiar with it all the time. Obviously we have the “loud other side” as well who criticize everything when there is something new to happen, but the greatest part of it is by far, that people think, talk and are willing for good conversation.
Where do you get your insects (or flour) from?
One of our founding members is a community of growers, so we have our own production.
Turning to alternative foods as edible insects is a need or just the trend of the moment?
It is both. There is a need to figure out more sustainable ways of feed the growing population of the globe, but at the same time food trends come and go, but now it can be seen as a trend that will steady at some point. People don’t need as much meat or protein most of us might think and even a small amount of crickets on weekly basis is very good to serve our nutritional needs naturally, with no additives. Insects are in a good position in the global mega trends like healthier and more sustainable food.