It was in early 2017 that the story of Finnish cricket protein company Entis, began, when entrepreneur Antti Nuutinen discovered like-minded students at a start-up course at the University of Turku.
“At that time it was illegal in Finland to sell insects as food but we saw the writing on the wall and we saw the legislation coming through.
“We thought, we’ve probably got about one year until crickets legalised as food so that gives us time to create a company.
"But it ended up being legalised in Finland much quicker than we expected - in the Autumn of 2017.
“The same morning the legislation went through, we were suddenly getting phone calls from retailers saying ‘we hear you have a business selling insect products, send us everything you have as fast as possible'.
“Obviously it’s usually really hard for a new business to get new retailers so it was totally unheard of!”
The first product they were able to send to the retailers was their chocolate covered house crickets. This is a three-strong range including crickets coated in: Milk chocolate, white chocolate yogurt and liquorice chocolate.
They quickly sold out of what they were able to produce and had to rapidly expand by finding more cricket producers and thankfully these weren’t too difficult to find.
The entrepreneur says the number of producers has been quickly expanding ever since the edible insect law came into effect in 2017, and with that, the cost of crickets has been quickly falling.
But just last week there was a new development in Finland which Nuutinen believes will give a huge extra boost to the market.
“We just got some great news via Twitter that an old mine in Finland 1.5km below the ground is going to be used to start farming crickets.
“The atmosphere down there is perfect because it Is naturally warm, making it cheaper to farm the crickets and keeping down the cost for buyers.
“It’s such a young field and events like the opening of the new production facility are shaping the whole field.
“The price point is the most crucial thing now and when the price point goes down below that of chicken, it’s going to be big.”
Confident this ingredient should become even more affordable than beef, Nuutinen says this will also allow him to add more cricket protein to his products, adding extra nutritional benefits.
The Entis team is still trialling a number of product ideas but thanks to the neutral nutty flavour of cricket Nuutinen says the options are pretty much endless.
“The hope is that we will sell everyday kinds of products.
“Crickets are an excellent ingredient and it would be a shame not to see them in our everyday diets.”
The company recently launched Bug Bites, an oat-based high-protein snack made from oat snack oat flour, pea protein, soy protein isolate and house crickets protein.
Just 100g of the snack offers 290 kcal, 43g of protein, minimal saturated fat, 1g of sugar, 3,9g of fibre, as well as being a source of Iron and Zinc.
The latest product launched is Entis protein powder made with pea protein, cricket powder (11%) and roasted pumpkin protein. A portion offers 136 calories, 21g of protein, just 1g of carbohydrate and 0.4g of sugar. The team also has a vanilla variant ready to launch next.
The products are available online and in retail in Finland, Croatia, Poland, Bulgaria, with Czechia joining the list next month.
100 grams of cricket contains around 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g of fat, and minimal carbohydrates plus they are a good source of vitamins, potassium, omega-3 and 6, calcium, fibre and iron.
This protein source is also likely to appeal to the environment-conscious as crickets offer a lot of bang for their buck. It is estimated that they require 12 times less food and around 2000 times less water than beef (counting water for crops for fodder as well as for drinking) for the same edible weight gain. CO2 emissions from the farming of crickets is estimated at around 100 times less than that of beef.