Interview with Madeleine Morley, head of communication at Entomojo
Tell us how you got involved in the edible insects world and why you decided to start the Entomojo project
One evening after dinner in March 2017, as the Wi-Fi at home was down, I was reading the magazine The Scientist with my teenage brother, Max (a rare event). An article caught our attention. It was about alternative proteins, (such as insect protein), described as the future trend of food consumption. It stated that these foods of the future could feed the entire worldwide population whilst both taking into account the limits of the planet’s natural resources and responding to the increasing demand for high protein diets. Repulsed by the thought, Max declared he would rather become a vegetarian, if it came to it. It was then that Mojo, our 50 kg Rhodesian ridgeback, delicately placed his head on the article in an attempt to get some of the meal leftovers he had had his eye on for a while. It then clicked in my head: my brother and I weren’t quite ready to switch to insects as a source of protein, but why not give some to Mojo?
I immediately called Paola, one my closest friends, to share the idea. We have known each other for over 15 years and have always had the desire to found a start-up with an environmental and social impact. Convinced by the potential of the project, we pitched the idea to Marine, our mutual friend met whilst studying Environmental Technology at Imperial College in London. Marine also decided to take on the adventure: the Entomojo machine was launched.
Our Master studies enabled us to deepen our understanding of the dynamics between, increasing global world population, demand for meat products and the devastating effects this was causing on the functioning of ecosystem services. However, we had no idea of the impact the pet food industry had on the environment alone: A UCLA study found that dogs and cats in the US are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption. This statistic shocked us, and we were convinced more than ever that creating Entomojo was crucial.
What products are you marketing at the moment?
We have launched our OJO-BOOST complete dry food for adult dogs made with insect protein. Insects offer a natural and replenishable alternative source of protein, packed with nutrients and respectful of the environment. It is a healthy and sustainable way to provide the daily nutritional requirements that pets need. Our product is also hypoallergenic and grain free. Elaborated with Hermetia Illucens powder (insect powder) and more than twelve different vegetables, fruits, herbs and spirulina, OJO- BOOST is a real health partner for dogs. It sustains their intestine functions, helps preserve a shiny coat and reduces faecal smells.
What will be the impact of edible insects on the petfood market?
We really believe offering alternative protein sources on the pet food market will help raise awareness concerning the quality of meat and the overall environmental impact of the pet food currently commercialised on the market.
We also hope to convince people that it’s possible to help preserve the planet as well as improve the health of pets with a simple shift in their daily habit : changing their pet’s diet.
How is it possible to convince pet owners that it is nonsense to transfer human food preferences to a dog or a cat?
Each species has its own biologically appropriate diet, dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements for instance.
In the wild, dogs are able to eat a varied diet including meat, vegetables, herbs and sometimes fruit. Cats are obligate carnivores and require a higher protein content so they tend to stick to prey. One thing is for sure, both don’t eat grains as their bodies struggle to digest them and they are unable to convert the nutritional content into sugar, unlike humans.
What’s more both cats and dogs already naturally include insects in their diets. This is the case for some humans, but it definitely isn’t engrained in the European diet.
Is the market growing fast enough in relation to your business needs?
There is no doubt that there is a lot of traction around the edible insect pet food market. Supply of insect powder is plentiful, with insect farms booming in France.
With the European legislation only authorizing insect products to enter the market for domestic animals relatively recently, it is a market that has a lot of growth potential.