Snacking on insects
Insects are considered the protein source of the future. The founder of "Snack-Insects", Folke Dammann, certainly agrees. In addition to offering a variety of insect-based products to private consumers and restaurants since 2013, the company also organizes tasting sessions, insect cookery courses and information events to counteract prejudices and misconceptions regarding insects as food.
When and why did you come up with the idea of offering insect-based foods?
In 2012, I happened to come across a report that depicted insects as sustainable protein suppliers. I was immediately convinced of the potential of the food insects, and researched more about. A few months later I founded 'Snack-Insects'. Many experts and the FAO have been working to harness the potential of edible insects in the western world for several years now. Insects provide high quality animal protein and are very healthy. For the cultivation of edible insects significantly less water and surface is needed. In addition, they produce comparatively little greenhouse gases. The world population is growing steadily and thus alternatives for a future protein supply must be found. A possible solution could be the increased consumption of insects
How were the "snack insects" selected and why these species?
Currently, breeding in Europe focuses on four insect species for human consumption: grasshoppers, crickets, flour and Buffalo worms. From the very beginning, it was very important to us to offer high quality products that are up to European standards. We are cooperating with special farms in the Netherlands and France and can offer our customers such strictly controlled and tasty breeding insects.
Which obstacles had to be overcome before the market launch?
Basically, we have to meet the usual food law requirements as other food processing companies too. The market of processed insects is still not well regulated in Europe and can even be problematic sometimes. Thus, we always use the whole insect in our products. The biggest hurdle was probably to convince customers to try them. To adress this we have done a lot of educational work from the beginning, carried out tasting campaigns and started to publish recipe ideas and tips for the preparation of insects online.
How is the acceptance on the market?
Of course it is quite a challenge to convince people of insects as food. But the topic also ensures a lot of attention. In Europe, it is mostly a learned reluctance towards eating insects. But eating habits can change quickly as shown by the example of sushi. A few years ago no one would have believed that we would eat raw fish. Today, there is sushi in nearly every supermarket. Also, people have become more open in recent years. The topic of 'Insects as flesh of the future' is and has often been discussed in the media in recent years, and therefore many people in this country have already heard of the ecological benefits of eating insects.
There are still many more ideas to come and we already have some finished new products ready to be released. We are currently expanding our production facilities and look forward to an exciting 'Snack Insects' future.
Interview: Judith Reichel