Launching an Edible Insect Business, Part II: Competitors

In Part 1, I assessed the market for edible insects in the UK, and determined it has a lot of potential. In this post, Part II, I’ll look at who are the current market players.

The first step is to get a list of companies. The most obvious method is to use a search engine. It’s good to use a variety of websites - Google, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia - and phrases - “edible insects uk”, “buy crickets uk”. Alongside providing companies to investigate further, it also shows who are the most popular - or at least have the best SEO.

Searching also leads to articles and organisations, which we can also use. The above searches also returned the UK Edible Insect Association (UKEIA) and UKEIA has a list of members, and a Government consultation included responses from stakeholders - more companies to investigate.

Once we’ve found some companies, we can try to find similar companies on Companies House using their SIC codes. This, however, didn’t prove fruitful, as companies were registered under relatively generic codes such as “46180 - Agents specialised in the sale of other particular products” and “56290 - Other food services”.

I’m focussing on companies that are actively raising and selling insects within the UK - so excluding importers, resellers/distributors, companies not registered in the UK, and companies without stock (either “sold out” or “coming soon”). I’m also excluding producers of insects not for human consumption (e.g. for pet food).

If I was delivering this for a client, I would provide the data (and a lot more if!) in a spreadsheet and presentation. However, for a web article, that would be a bit clunky, so instead I’ll simply do under headings.

I’m doing these first because I’m actually a customer of theirs. Registered as CF Banks Ltd, number 723442, incorporated in 1962, it seems it’s a farm that also does traditional (non-insect) agriculture. They sell, via their website and Amazon, 20g flavoured packs of crickets or £5, 500g of crickets for £35, or 1kg of cricket flour for £68.

One of the top results on the search engines and available on Amazon. Registered as Snow Pony Limited, company 7561387, incorporated in 2011. They sell “trail mix” packs (of insects alongside more traditional trail mix ingredients such as fruit and seeds) as well as insects (buffalo worms, mealworms, crickets, locusts) by themselves. A pint of crickets (114g) is £16.99, 1kg of cricket flour is £68, and the small 32g snack packs (12% insects) are £1.99 each.

The next most common one on search and also available on Amazon. Company 8635050, incorporated in 2013. They most sells snack packs of flavoured crickets, 15g (~70% insect) for £1-£2, but also sell insects by themselves (crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, buffalo worms), in sizes of 20g, 45g, and 1kg (£50 for crickets).

Yum Bug have been on TV and are pretty active on social and traditional media. Registered as Better Universal Grub Ltd, company 10944857, incorporated in 2017. Rather then selling to consumers, they provide insect-derived ingredients (e.g. mince/flour) to restaurants to add something unique to their menus. They used to sell to consumers on Amazon, but everything is current out of stock, and their own website isn’t linking to their shop, so I think this part of their business may be on pause.

Company 9865820, incorporated in 2015. Along with selling plain insects (500g crickets for £49) and flour (200g for £19), they offer cooking classes and grow-your-own mealworm kits.

Company 11514362, incorporated in 2018. As the name suggests, they focus on gym-goers, offering protein powder that incorporates an (unspecified) percentage of cricket powder along with the usual mix of supplementary vitamins, minerals, and other compounds. £35 per kg.

Company 12894445, incorporated in 2020, interestingly also registered to the same address as Gymsect above - along with almost 100,000 other companies. They sell mixed flavour puffs - crisp-replacement snacks made from flours including cricket (8%). £1.50~£2 per 25g bag.

So there we have it! As suspected, there aren’t many players in the field, and most are under a decade old.

Alongside those companies above, I did find a few names of other companies who are supposedly related to the industry (e.g. part of UKEIA) but don’t have a web presence so I haven’t included any information on them here.

I also came across a few companies which raise insects in southeast Asia before shipping them internationally. The climate can be advantageous to raising insects, and they are eaten natively so local expertise and markets exist. This might be worth considering, depending on freight costs - insects are light but take up a lot of space, so perhaps this would better for flours.

In addition, there is already a market for live insects being raised for the pet market, to be fed to reptiles. A surprising number are part of UKEIA and responded to the Government consultation, suggesting if laws change they may enter the market of insects for human consumption.

There are a few different styles of product available, from hidden (flour) to overt (”here’s a bag of crickets”). They’re all very expensive, generally over £100 per kilo, which is far more than the equivalent beef jerky (~£50/kg) or flour (~50p/kg). Crickets are the most popular, followed by mealworms and locusts (in part due to regulation limited what can legally be sold).

I have found (from personal experience and images online) that most sold crickets are small - perhaps one centimetre long. I enquired and was told there are two primary reasons: 1, they apparently taste worse larger; 2, the require proportionally more food, so it’s inefficient. However, in Thailand, where I’ve eaten them, they’re full-sized, and personally I think it would be more satisfying to eat something the size of a crisp than a penny.

For someone wanting to enter this market, it’s also worth noting you don’t have to raise your own insects. For example, I’m aware Yum Bug purchase theirs from a farm in the UK before they process them into ingredients/meals.

Next - product!