Chicken is thought to be the most efficient animal at converting feed to protein. That’s probably why chicken is one of the cheapest types of meat. The problem is, mass factory farming of chickens is not sustainable and causes tremendous harm to animals. There needs to be a much better alternative to chicken protein in the future. And with cricket farming, the future may be closer than you think.
Crickets are more efficient at producing protein than chickens
A study (1) comparing crickets to chickens found that 450 g of specialized poultry feed was enough to produce 260 g of edible crickets and 190 g of edible chicken. That’s an impressive result considering the chicken had an advantage of 90 years of farming experience over 500 consecutive growing cycles on roughly 20 billion chickens. In contrast, the authors completed only 3 growing cycles with about 50 thousand crickets in for this study. Protein conversion efficiency was a closer race but bugs still beat birds by roughly 10%.
Investments and automation are coming
As you can see crickets can already deliver greater efficiency than chickens have achieved after 90 years of experimentation. Just imagine what happens after cricket farmers figure out the ideal feed. Cricket farming also has a lot of potential in automation and vertical farming. Guys at Tiny Farms are already making progress but there’s a lot more to come. In our eyes, crickets look like a better bet going forward.
Prices going down
Even though crickets have a lot of potential, cricket farming is in its infancy so the price of cricket protein is still very high. But there is a lot of research and smart people interested in making cricket protein’s price competitive.
Jarrod Goldin, the president of Entomo farms said in 2016 “Chicken farming is literally one of the most studied industries on the planet. We will get there. We have already brought the wholesale price down by about 30 % this year. We see further decreases by end of year.”
As for us, we will have some big news to share with you soon. Our goal is clear – make insect eating the new normal. And we will do everything we can to make that happen. Stay tuned!
- Lundy ME, Parrella MP, ‘Crickets are not a free lunch: protein capture from scalable organic side-streams via high-density populations of Acheta domesticus.’, PLoS One. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25875026