M’sian start-up sells “artisanal roasted crickets” in flavours like BBQ, salted egg & kimchi
Your stomach is aching from the usual late-night hunger pangs. Looking for a quick snack, you reach out not for nuts, chips or biscuits… but some crickets??
Keeping sustainability in mind
This could very well be the case for customers of Ento, a start-up in Malaysia serving up “artisanal roasted crickets”.
Founded by Kevin Wu in May 2018, the company reportedly already has 100 to 200 customers every month consuming the insects.
According to a Today article, sustainability was a key concern when Wu launched Ento.
According to Wu, Entomophagy, the consumption of insects, was becoming a common practice in Europe and the U.S. and he felt that it was a market worth exploring in Asia, considering crickets are already a common delicacy in places like Thailand.
Consuming insects has kicked off in foreign countries, mainly due to the environmental benefits.
Farming crickets requires less feed, less space, and generate a smaller carbon footprint compared to beef.
Before Wu started Ento , he went around Chiang Mai taste-testing various bugs, and found crickets to be the tastiest. Furthermore, they’re protein rich.
“Once I popped a couple of crickets into my mouth, I was hooked! Crickets have a nutty, earthy and umami taste. They taste somewhat like a cross between shrimps and toasted almonds!”
Frankly, I’ve tried crickets before, and they do taste similar to hae bee (dried shrimps).
To overcome the instinctive ‘yuck factor’ many experience at the thought of eating insects, Ento has repackaged the crickets into more palatable flavours.
Their crickets are now sold whole on their website, packaged in colourful packets, and come in three rather attractive flavours—Texas BBQ, Korean Kimchi and Singapore Salted Egg Yolk.
One packet costs S$6.53, but fans of the snack can purchase a bundle containing the three flavours for S$18.70.
Here’s a better look at the roasted crickets on a tortilla.
Plans to expand
Wu stated that Ento plans on scaling up production from 50kg of crickets per month out of their 3,000 square feet farm, to producing 2,500kg per month.
The company is actively fundraising to meet this goal. To reach out to the public and convince them to give crickets a try, Ento has been setting up booths at events and markets as well.
Although Ento’s products are sold locally in Malaysia, their main target markets are Thailand, US, Canada and Europe, and they plan to make their products ready for commercial export to these latter countries by 2020, according to Vulcan Post.
Once they have gained enough traction, the Ento team plans to move their online-based business to retail spaces such as 7-Eleven by late 2019 too.
Perhaps one day in the not-so-far future, snacking on crickets might become a norm.
Top photo from Ento / FB