By Tom Collins
CAMPBELLFORD Three entrepreneurial brothers are hoping to start selling crickets to farmers as a food source for livestock.
Next Millennium Farms, the first cricket farm in North America to market crickets for human consumption, produces 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of crickets a month. The business launched only six months ago in a 5,000 sq. ft. facility. But theyre now using 10,000 sq. ft. and are negotiating a move into a 150,000 sq. ft. building.
Jarrod Goldin, co-owner of Next Millennium Farms in Campbellford, about 45 minutes east of Peterborough, says there are plans for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to allow farmers to start feeding insects to their livestock. He expects regulations to change in Canada, the U.S. and Europe within the next two years. He says that twice a week he fields calls from pet food companies looking to get in on the ground floor once the regulations change. Food manufacturers are also calling. What they all want is the high-protein content.
In the meantime, Next Millennium Farms will keep selling crickets to its biggest consumer: humans.
The biggest seller is cricket flour and its not cheap. A 113-gram bag of the flour sells for $15, not including shipping, while a 2.27-kg bag sells for $185. The gluten-free organic cricket flour sells for $225 for a 2.27-kg bag. By comparison, a 2.5-kg bag of all-purpose flour from the grocery store will cost about $5.49. Next Millennium Farms also offers oven-roasted crickets in honey mustard, barbecue and Moroccan flavours. The products are only available at www.nextmillenniumfarms.com.
Originally, Goldins two brothers, Darren and Ryan, raised crickets as snake food for eight years. They wanted to get into the business of raising crickets for human consumption after a 2013 United Nations (UN) study concluded that as the worlds population is expected to hit nine billion by 2050, insects need to become a new source of food. Insect-eating is already popular in many countries, such as Thailand, Japan and Brazil, but it has yet to catch on in North America.
One of the advantages of raising crickets versus hogs or beef cattle is the return one gets from feeding the livestock. According to the United Nations report, for every 10 pounds of feed crickets eat, they produce five to six pounds of food, adding that a cow eating 10 pounds of feed will produce just one pound of food. Goldin says they can also feed the crickets certain foods to manipulate their metabolic profile so a farmer can feed his animals exactly what he wants, such as increasing calcium, vitamin A, or Omega-3.
He can even influence flavour. A cricket that is fed apple and cinnamon before being euthanized will end up tasting like apple and cinnamon. “The most anti-climactic thing for most people when they try it is that it tastes just like food and it tastes pretty good,” said Goldin.
But the food advantage is the nutritional benefits. Crickets are high in protein. Theres 8 to 25 grams of protein in 100 grams of crickets, according to the UN report. Crickets are also high in calcium, iron, potassium, amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, but low in cholesterol and saturated fats.
Next Millennium Farms has 10 employees and 30 million crickets at a time crickets live for just six weeks before they are turned into food. With the next expansion, Goldin says he expects to have a staff of 80 and 300 to 450 million crickets at a time.