A bug bite: Vietnam launches nutritious, eco-friendly cricket burgers
By Eric San Juan
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- Vietnamese company Cricket One has come up with burgers, sausages and paté containing cricket meat, known for its high nutritional value and much lower cost and ecological impact compared to other animals.
With a somewhat darker texture inside than beef, the burger that the company is set to launch in January has a taste similar to smoked meat, which combines well with the lettuce, tomato and cheese in a bread bun.
However, the Cricket One team is yet to achieve the same consistency as minced beef or chicken, and the meat tends to break into several pieces if held too tightly when bitten.
To produce a 125-gram burger, it takes about 200 crickets, which, according to the company, contain a higher protein ratio than beef and provide the body with amino acids, essential vitamins such as B12 or B6 and minerals like magnesium.
The firm’s co-founder Bicky Nguyen said it would cost less than a beef burger and that it was more eco-friendly to produce cricket meat than beef or pork, as it did not require so much land, water and food.
Another factor is the efficiency of the cricket as an organism as it converts a much larger proportion of the food it consumes into body mass.
“We have 7 billion people on this planet. If we don’t try to do something different, we are part of the problem. If we try to step up, we help create awareness,” Nguyen told EFE.
The burger will be the first product launch of the novel insect meat and will be available from January onwards in several restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, the most populous and cosmopolitan city in the country.
“The reason why we launch this burger is to show a product concept for our possible clients. If we wait for someone to produce burgers from our meat, it’s going to take forever and we are afraid of missing the wave,” Nguyen said.
The Cricket One team is also developing sausages, paté, and a dish with Japanese teriyaki sauce.
The entrepreneur said that they devised processed cricket meat as an alternative to cricket flour.
“We also started with the powder (cricket flour) and still produce it. But we realized that having one single product was limiting our growth,” she explained.
The biggest obstacle they faced was finding a technology to eliminate the exoskeleton, the hard tissue covering the body of several insects, without damaging the protein chains and without using solvent chemicals.
It took them nine months to come up with something feasible and that they still have to perfect it to be able to employ it on an industrial scale.
“We think nobody got this far in this process,” she said.
At the Cricket One plant in Loc Ninh, near the Cambodian border, some 25 million crickets raised on the 12 nearby farms are converted into flour and processed meat every month.
Nguyen stressed that their crickets meet animal welfare requirements and are fed with a vegetable feed, unlike other farms, which nourishes these insects with feed derived from chicken legs and other meat derivatives.
“We give them a good life. They are distributed in boxes with a biomass and some structures that we call the apartment for crickets,” said Nguyen, adding that a cricket takes 35 days to mature into an adult. EFE-EPA