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The Secret to Sustainable, Healthy Food? Crickets

Alejandro de la Brena - Griyum


Sofía Hanna By Sofía Hanna | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 02/08/2023 - 09:30

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Q: Griyum works to generate the future of food. What are the flaws of the current system that Griyum hopes to improve?

A: There are two main flaws regarding food and nutrition. The first is how the food system destroys forests and natural resources because food production changes the land. For example, instead of conserving the Amazon as it is, it has been adapted to grow crops and raise farm animals. This has a huge environmental impact. This problem points to a need to develop alternative proteins that do not result in such an enormous impact. The second problem is the large-scale nutrition crisis. The percentage of overweight or obese individuals continues to increase in line with the development of bad habits.


At Griyum, we imagine a world where junk food gives people access to good nutritional balance while being sustainable, allowing people to eat the protein they need without sacrificing the flavor and experience. Insects are a nutrient-dense food source, containing up to 75% of protein by dry weight. They are also a complete protein that contains iron and other micronutrients. Finally, it takes only 4% of natural resources to produce the volume of crickets equivalent to a cow.


Q: How is Griyum working to eliminate the taboo surrounding eating insects and what are the benefits of replacing other foods with them?

A: We are one of the first companies in Latin America to propose the industrialization of crickets, which we have done since 2016. One of the first challenges was to ensure the product tasted good. The second has been to change consumer perceptions of eating insects. We observed that creating at least one extremely good experience when consuming insects is enough to change consumers’ perceptions for the rest of their lives.


To move forward, we are working closely with brands like Santena, which is also developing sustainable and delicious food. We are combining efforts to create one-of-a-kind gastronomic experiences with restaurants to create these special moments that can eliminate the taboo surrounding insect consumption and transform it into a preference.


Q: How can Griyum help to change unsustainable food systems that leave many without food and how could the use of this protein address hunger in Mexico?

A: About 30% of the calories Mexicans eat come from ultra-processed foods, putting them in a nutritional imbalance. One way to balance this is to substitute the amount of carbohydrates and fats in those foods with a sustainable protein. Griyum seeks to be a part of the solution through that 30%. The plan is to balance all food products, so that the customer does not have to worry or even learn to eat healthier. Instead of using conventional livestock production, we can introduce a sustainable model that is both socially acceptable and sustainably responsible.


In economic terms, a cricket cookie is still at least 50% more expensive than a regular cookie but this is because the movement is still at an early stage. There is a great deal of technology behind a cricket farm and there is still much work to be done in mass production and technology to reach a point in which our products can be competitive. But it will happen.


Q: How do you bring your production technology closer to rural sharecroppers?

A: Instead of creating technology with a huge CAPEX requirement, we are introducing automation and climate control systems that are accessible to small farmers. Our technology is meant to accommodate a 300m2 farm, using solar systems to control the temperature and automatically feed the crickets. With these products, a farmer can have the same amount of protein as two acres of land without a large investment.


Q: How could Griyum extend its reach to more places in Mexico or abroad without ceasing to be considered a sustainable food producer?

A: The first step is to start producing locally and we will later expand our production systems to other countries, like the US and the EU. We are more interested in producing locally. We are trying to make our technology a trending topic by getting closer to the food service industry and creating gastronomic experiences. After achieving this goal, we will focus on expanding internationally. Additionally, those who acquire the technology can sell their entire production to us.


Q: What plans does Griyum have for 2023?

A: We have been in this industry for a long time. As preferred suppliers, we are behind many of the existing Mexican brands using cricket-based ingredients and have done a great deal of research to back up our work, as we seek to become trusted partners in new food projects. This year, we are focusing on bringing together the food service industry and large corporations through an event in which food innovators can discuss achieving a sustainable future through collaboration. 


Griyum makes functional ingredients out of edible crickets that can be used by other companies to make snacks with the optimal nutritional balance.

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