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Young graduates succeed with their bug idea

Update: July, 02/2017 - 09:00
Tasty treat: Dough is rolled to make the cricket cookies.
Viet Nam News

To most people, insects are a pest to be shooed out of the house of squashed underfoot. To a group of four young entrepreneurs from Đà Nẵng’s University of Economics however, creepy crawlies are a good source of nutrition. Their batch of cookies, made with crickets, has become a surprising success and they’re now considering more products.

By Bạch Liên

When you mention crickets many Vietnamese people will remember growing up with exciting stories by Tô Hoài, especially his book Diary of a Cricket, which was published 70 years ago. The cricket, named Mèn, leaves home to go on an adventure and even today children love reading about all of the characters he meets on his journey.

Eating crickets, on the other hand, may seem a little strange to most people.

A group of four young graduates from Đà Nẵng’s University of Economics had the idea of making safe food from crickets. They established the Demeater Food JSC (DFC) and have been successfully selling products since January this year, including cookies made from crickets.

“Crickets mostly eat safe grass. Green leaves which have been treated with insecticides can kill them. Moreover, crickets are very nutritional. So we believe that the crickets can be a safe and healthy food for everyone,” said Nguyễn Hữu Đạt, a representative of the group.

In January this year, many attendees at the ‘Weekend Makes Changes’ fair, organised by the Việt Nam-UK Institute for Research and Executive Education, couldn’t hide their surprise at the ‘cookies made from crickets’, created by the Demeater Food JSC (DFC).

The entrepreneurs worked with chef Tuấn Hilton, who is known for making pastry, to make quality cookies that combined cricket flour and the taste of European cookies.

In order to ensure a sufficient supply of crickets, the company has cooperated with the Sigma cricket farm in Hòa Vang District, the biggest cricket farm in the city, which can provide up to 200kg of fresh crickets everyday.

A bug’s life: Crickets continue to gain momentum because they are easy to farm and come with a host of nutritional benefits.

Currently, their products are only sold in the domestic market.

Đạt said that many people are still hesitant about eating insects, but once they learn about the nutritional value of the insects they soon become fans.

“While eating insects has grown in Europe or America, it’s still a new concept in Việt Nam, so it is very difficult for us to convince our clients,” Đạt said. 

“At the beginning, when I first heard about cookies made from crickets, I was surprised and couldn’t believe people liked them. I was not ready to try them because I had never eaten insects. I was pleasantly surprised. Cricket cookies are very delicious,” said Mai Ngọc Thanh, a client at Đà Nẵng Souvenirs&Café shop in Bạch Đằng Street, where the product is sold.

Speaking at the seminar to promote start-up projects organised by the Đà Nẵng Department of Science and Technology in May, Trần Vũ Nguyên, director of Đà Nẵng Business Incubator (which supports the project) said: “Making cookies from crickets is a very audacious and creative startup idea. The originality and the quality of the product can attract the market. Demeater JSC is a pioneering startup in Việt Nam in the development of clean food from insects,” he said.

Presently, the company’s products are available for sale at the TuanHilton shop on Hoàng Diệu Street and Đà Nẵng Souvenirs&Café.

Đạt said that the company would like to make new products from crickets and expand the business into other localities nationwide, and into European and American markets in the years ahead. —VNS

In a recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2 billion people (30 per cent of the global population) use insects as food. This number is increasing, in particular in Western countries.

Many countries have introduced crickets — fried, baked, or ground into flour — to the menu. The insect’s nutritional benefits, combined with mounting concerns over the environmental impacts of meat production, is prompting environmentally-conscious food producers to see the pest in a new light, turning cricket meal into everything from protein bars to cookies.

A new study by the University of Montana in the US says that, weight for weight, cricket flour has 1.3 times more protein, three times more calcium, and 1.5 times more iron than beef, while raising this type of insect uses much less water and food than traditional sources. That’s why crickets and other insects are considered a food of the future.

There are actually thousands of insects that are eaten worldwide, but crickets continue to gain momentum because they are easy to farm and come with a host of nutritional benefits.

Hard at work: The young graduates in the kitchen, making their cricket cookies.
A novel idea: The group of four young graduates from Đà Nẵng City’s University of Economics with some of their cricket-based products.


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