Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Startup founders on a two-woman mission to normalise insect protein

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Ento edible insect protein
Ento edible insect protein

Related tags Startup company Insect Protein Sustainability vegan

Two women who grew up enjoying the health benefits of eating insects in South Korea and Mexico have teamed up to create a versatile and nutrient dense insect protein blend which they hope will appeal to a wide audience from gym fanatics to fellow mums.

Danielle Petricevic and Alejandra Perez Fernandez, co-founders of the self-funded startup Ento, hope their new ‘entovegan’ product will chime a chord with the growing number of nutritionally and environmentally-conscious consumers in the UK.

The ladies both grew up in areas where the health benefits of insects were common knowledge.

“Growing up in Mexico, the most common insect eaten there is crickets. We would have them on tacos or just on their own as a snack with some salt and lemon or chilli,” ​says Perez Fernandez.

“It’s well known there that they are a really healthy. It’s the kind of thing your grandma tells you when you’re a child.”

Equally, Petricevic had a similar experience growing up in South Korea.

They both moved to the UK over a decade ago and it was about four years ago that they met at the school gates and eventually realised their

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Alejandra and Danielle

shared interest in bringing this essential food source to local plates.

“One afternoon, shortly before COVID hit, we were discussing entomophagy (the behaviour of eating insects), and we both saw a market in alternative protein using insects.”

Coming from a background in graphic design and economics, nutrition was a completely new space for both the founders.

And as if this wasn’t challenging enough, COVID hit shortly after they started planning their venture and they found themselves acting as home school teachers whilst also trying to build the business.

Inevitably, the pandemic caused delays throughout the process but their launch product, Ento Cacao protein blend, was made available D2C online a few weeks ago and it also launched on Amazon last week (November 1st​).

Perez explains how their product, made with edible mealworm, pea and brown rice protein, differs from other insect protein on the market.

“We believe our product is more versatile than some others on the market which are aimed at gym goers. You can bake with the powder and add it to your breakfast cereal. It’s even great for making healthy snacks for kids.”

Perez Fernandez adds: “We also believe the flavour is a lot better than other insect proteins on the market. Ours has a good quality non-alkalised cacao so it tastes more decadent and has a better nutrition profile than alkalised cacao.

The founders say the cricket powder provides more than 60% protein (higher than chicken, beef, pea, beans. lentils, soybeans and eggs) as well as more than 20 vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, plus 7.7g of essential amino acids including all BCAAs, and digestive enzymes, creating a highly digestible and bioavailable protein. The blend also contains zero added sugar, additives or preservatives.

In terms of sustainability credentials, the founders explain crickets produce 80 times less methane than cattle and their production requires minimal land, water and feed.

The ladies have concentrated their marketing efforts on in-store and in-gym tastings, allowing them to explain the health benefits and dispel flavour concerns.

“Most people are really open to trying edible insects. Not many have come across them before but they are really open to trying new things and they are really pleasantly surprised by the taste,”​ says Perez Fernandez.

Petricevic adds: “Vegans and vegetarians alike seem to be equally keen to try this alternative as they share the same ethos around environmental sustainability.”

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