Crikey! Fruit fly flour beats crickets for cost, says Israeli start-up

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/ marekuliasz
© iStock/ marekuliasz

Related tags Insect Nutrition Snack

Move over crickets and mealworms - Israeli start-up Flying Spark is farming and processing fruit fly powders and oils that are cheaper than other insect ingredients but with a similar nutritional and taste profile.

The powders and oil are made from the larvae of the fruit fly that are fed a diet made up exclusively of fruit, and are reared without the use of hormones, antibiotics or pesticides.

The larvae hatch after only six days meaning the manufacturers to boast a low carbon impact.  

© Flying Spark

CEO and co-founder Eron Gronich told FoodNavigator the powders are ideal for use in applications ranging from sweet and savoury bakery products and sports nutrition foods to dairy-free cheese.

The start-up intends on positioning the fruit fly oil, on the other hand, as a high-end consumer facing product - to rival olive oil for instance - rather than for industrial frying.

Meanwhile, the whole unprocessed fruit fly larvae can be used as a replacement to minced meat for a more sustainable alternative in hamburgers or nuggets.

The powders are very light- and heat-stable and have a shelf-life of between six to 18 months depending on the application, said Gronich. There is a range of flavours, [from] nutty to natural, as it depends on the amount of oil in the powder. We are producing whole powder as well as reduced fat powder.”

Fruit fly larvae are cholesterol-free with a high essential amino acid profile and contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

But the main benefit in using fruit fly larvae powder instead of the more common cricket powder or mealworm powder is simple, according to Gronich: “[It’s] much more affordable in price and has a lower cost per protein content.”

Flying Spark farms and processes the fruit fly larvae at its production facility in Israel, and currently has a manufacturing capacity of “several thousand pounds​”.

© Flying Spark

Gronich could not disclose any names but confirmed the start-up is already in talks with several multinationals which are testing the fruit fly powders for use in sports nutrition and bakery products.

The powders and oils already have regulatory approval for the North American, Asian and Middle Eastern markets, said Gronich, and while insects are not yet authorised on the European Union under the novel foods act, Flying Spark is a member of the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) taskforce which is lobbying for workable and consistent rules​ for insect producers across the EU.

Flying Spark was chosen by start-up incubator and accelerator Mass Challenge in 2015, and raised nearly one million dollars in funding.  

The Flying Spark is not the only insect enterprise operating in Israel. It will be competing with Hargol FoodTech (formerly known as Steak TzarTzar​) which is raising funds to build a grasshopper-growing facility for flour, food additives and whole foods.

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