Startup wants to change image of insect-based foods

Topeka — A group of Washburn University students has launched a startup that aims to combat hunger and change how Americans think about food by creating a protein powder made out of crickets.

Six students formed the startup Agrotech Enterprises, which recently won the Washburn Entrepreneur Pitch Competition for its cricket protein powder business idea, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Crickets are an excellent prospect for the company because of their nutritional value, said Jonathan Barnell, a senior who directs the group’s research and development.

“They’re basically a superfood,” he said. “Per gram, when you grind down crickets into powder, you’re looking at twice the protein as beef.”

Crickets contain all essential amino acids, Barnell added. It also takes a fraction of the water and feed to produce 10 grams of protein using crickets, compared to beef.

But the startup team said its biggest challenge is changing the image of insect-based foods.

Junior student Joey Holley, who’s leading the group’s marketing, said the startup is targeting Generation Z and millennials, who may be more accepting of the idea as environmentally conscious consumers.

Holley said the group is focusing on cricket flour because it’s easier to disassociate with the idea of eating bugs if it’s baked into cookies and muffins. Flour makes it more approachable and helps people understand that it’s a nutritional product, he said.

The group will start selling its products online first, Holley said.

“We’re getting close to the point where we’re hoping to begin producing and selling our product in the winter of next year,” said Andrew Z. Foreman, an entrepreneurship student and the group’s CEO. “It’s a rapidly emerging market in the U.S. and globally. It’s expected to quadruple in size in the next six years.”


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.