The fitness market is huge – and growing. In September 2014, Globe Newswire reported that the global sports nutrition market was valued at USD 20.7 billion in 2012 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.0% from 2013 to 2019, to reach an estimated value of USD 37.7 billion in 2019.
“Increasing health awareness, healthy lifestyle, rising number of health clubs and fitness centers and changing consumer clusters for nutritional product across the globe are the key growth drivers for the global sports nutrition market. Traditionally, bodybuilders and sportspersons are the major consumers for sports nutrition products. However in recent years, new user groups (recreational and lifestyle users) have increased their market share in sports nutrition market. The market for sports nutrition is expanding from its major markets (North America) towards developing markets of Europe and Asia Pacific owing to ever-increasing population, rising income and rising living standard of consumers in these region. Countries such as India and China with their fast pace economic growth offer huge opportunities for sports nutrition market in the future. Moreover, surge in national and international sporting events and increased global participation in these; provide a good launch pad for the sports nutritional products. ”
One woman wants to make sure that entomophagy is a sustainable frontrunner in capitalizing on this trend.
Meet Courtney. Courtney is the owner of Jurassic Snacks and a 20 year old Nationally Qualified NPC competitor with a Bachelors in Accounting from Grand Canyon University. She is currently competing in National Physique Committee Bikini competitions and using Jurassic Snacks Cricket Power Powder in her daily diet to display the benefits of cricket protein in a competitor’s physique.
She wants the fitness industry to use cricket protein.
Aly: I’m hoping to start off focusing a bit on your own background – how you got into fitness – and then jump right into how you discovered the field of entomophagy!
Courtney: So we have raised crickets for the last 40 years. My grandpa started it in California and then my dad took over and moved the operations to Washington. We were solely bait, fishing, pet food… that type of thing. Thing a representative from Chapul came to us in 2011 and he was like, “Hey! I want to use your cricket for a protein bar!” We thought, “You’re crazy!” We did not have a separate inventory for human consumption and were not comfortable doing that. We took a step back from the industry and took a look at what was happening.
Fast-forward – I went to college, got really into fitness, and started competing. One day I spoke to my dad and told him that the cricket industry is such a bigger world than we originally gave it credit for. The sustainability of it is incredible, the protein aspect fits into my world of fitness, I believe in it… He backed me and we built a new facility. We sectioned off a whole new section specifically for human consumption and started Jurassic Snack’s offices there!
Aly: That’s incredible. Especially since to people like me, the cricket industry seems so new. I can’t believe your family has been growing for 40 years! One of the challenges I constantly hear about is the growing-pain associated with such a nascent industry. Livestock has had thousands of years to become the efficient industry it is today. Cricket farmers are relatively newer to the game. How collaborative (or secretive) have you found your fellow cricket farmers to be in this growing market?
Courtney: Well we have completely different procedures for the crickets we produce for human consumption and the crickets we produce for feed. We want to follow regulations and make sure we are food-grade. We’ve eliminated any chemicals and any substances that could be deemed harmful. We’ve reached a point where anyone could walk into any of our facilities and be fine picking up one of our crickets and eating them. We work hard on conducting small tests to make sure that we are operating at optimal efficiency.
Aly: Hard work pays off! So have you found the cricket farming community to be collaborative, or have you developed your operations from isolated trial and error?
Courtney: Honestly, there is so much to cricket production. Nobody really wants to open up their facilities and show the world how they are doing it. We’ve definitely done everything ourselves, and have perfected it over the 40 years we’ve been in business!
BUT in the entomophagy industry as a whole we see a big difference. The industry is super open, collaborative, and always asking how they can be helpful.
Aly: That makes sense! So after you heard about Chapul and human-grade insects… did it come naturally to you to immediately address the fitness market? Or did you undergo more market research to make that fit?
Courtney: Well, we definitely did the research. We spent time testing our protein contents and compiling our amino acid profiles. When we saw how high the protein content was, the fitness industry was a natural … FIT J In the fitness industry, you’re looking to get 1.3 grams of protein per body weight. Your entire diet is focused on “Where can I get my protein from? What are my protein sources?” As a fitness competitor, you get so tired of whey protein, and chicken, and this, and that… a new, sustainable, source of protein just fit PERFECTLY.
Aly: Absolutely! So I hear a lot of facts floating around on the exact protein content of crickets, and I guess it depends on how you raise them, but the health benefits seem clear. Can you give me the strongest pitch and most compelling points you’ve found that get your fitness audience to try your product?
Courtney: Crickets contain complete proteins. They have all the amino acids you need. They are 70% digestable, and a medium absorption rate.
Aly: And how have you found your “first encounters” to go? When you first are trying to convince athletes who have never tried your product before, what reactions do you get?
Courtney: They’re totally varied! Our typical customers are those who are into bodybuilding and who are really looking to find quality fuel for their bodies. They are very very accepting of this new protein source. They are tired of putting chemicals and crud into their systems to get these benefits. If you’ve ever seen the Rocky movies… he’s chugging raw eggs. That’s the mentality behind the fitness industry: I’ll eat raw eggs if I know that it is going to give me health benefits. They are so accepting of anything that has a scientific backing, especially if it tastes decent!
Aly: That’s so good to hear! I know you also read my article addressing the issue of showboating insects – it’s a topic that continues to fascinate me. We are fledglings in a world where we are trying to convince people to adopt a new food source. There are a variety of challenges that accompany this, but the fitness industry is a super promising sector to address. But on that topic, what is your opinion on how the ento-community is marketing insects? Are you concerned with attempts to market whole insects rather than powder?
Courtney: In my mind, a granola with whole crickets would be fine. But on the whole, I don’t think society is ready for that. As a consumer product that somebody is just going to pick up and use, people are not ready to say, “I’m going to eat this and I know it’s a bug.” You still do have your niche market that is accepting to eating whole crickets or worms, without the fear factor effect, but if you are to market this to the mass society, we need to stick to a powder.
Aly: I definitely see the benefits of the powder approach. I love, for instance, how easy you make it for consumers to add your cricket powder to their daily diets. The homepage of your website even says that you can just replace 20% of your normal flour with cricket powder, and, BAM – fortified meals. So simple, so understandable, so non-threatening. You also make it very easy for consumers to get started by listing some easy recipes on your site. What have been your favorite recipes to cook and what do you find yourself eating most often?
Courtney: Well we just starting selling our pancake mix. This morning I had cricket pancakes and I don’t taste anything different in them! They’re a good source of protein – our mix has 8 to 9 grams of protein per pancake. They’re a good source of carbs, healthy fats, and more! That’s been my favorite recipe. I put some strawberries on it and go to town!
Aly: Sounds yummy! Do you remember the first recipe you put together with cricket powder?
Courtney: It was smoothie. It probably was not the best tasting smoothie… now that I think about it. But by now I’ve discovered I love cricket powder in a chocolate peanut butter smoothie.
Aly: Now I’m hungry! Smoothies are a really great way to get started with cricket powder. So what have been your biggest challenges in growing this company?
Courtney: Education. Educating people to the fact that getting rid of the “ick” factor is possible. We want the public to come to our facility, look at our process, and see that bugs are not gross. These are bugs. We are going to eat them. But people cannot get the image of nasty coackroaches crawling through the holes of their house. These, in contrast, are insects that have been raised from birth off of clean food and in a healthy environment. It is hard for people to understand that these crickets are often better than 99% of the food that America is already eating.
Aly: True. Do you think that next steps for you would involve being put in retailers, fitness stores, supplement stores, or even Whole Foods?
Courtney: That’s our goal. We’re working with multiple retailers to get our products in stores, and our online distribution is something we want to grow and continue.
Aly: Our generation is all about ecommerce! So continuing on education – what other efforts have you put forth to educate the public? Do you travel, or host events?
Courtney: Our biggest education area is the gym. We walk into the gym and show off our team – we’ve put a lot of effort into our nutrition, our bodies, and our physique. When we go into the gym, people are constantly asking us, “What are you doing? What supplements are you using?” We tell them that a big source of our protein is our cricket powder. We supplement with 30-40 grams per day of cricket powder. Our bodies feel fueled to perfection.
Aly: Incredible marketing. Who better to showcase the effects of cricket protein than your team! So how did you get into fitness?
Courtney: So when I first went to university I went from being busy all the time, and running around, to just going to school all of the time. I had to stay occupied and stay active mentally, so my favorite activity became going to the gym everyday. Like they say – you become addicted to the gym. Typical of gym-goers: I walked into the gym one day and never walked out!
Now, in addition to selling cricket powder, we really want to work with individuals on their fitness goals. We want to set goals, give advice, provide motivation, create diets, and track progress. We want to be a tool people can go to for their fitness goals. We are open to helping anyone and everyone – from beginners to professionals.
Aly: I love it! You’re forming such a huge community! So if you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change in the entomophagy industry?
Courtney: I think that all of the companies out there need to get together and collaborate together. We need to work together to help build our brands and open up the world to see how much entomophagy is growing.
Aly: And where do you see your company in five years?
Courtney: In five years I see us with a line of supplement products in multiple gym retailers, and possibly our gym.
Courtney and Jurassic Snacks are changing the way we talk about fitness. She’s paving the way for entomophagy to reach one of it’s (potentially) most receptive audiences. Meanwhile, she’s educating the growing fitness community about ways to sustainably fuel our bodies. I can’t think of a better business model, or a better woman for the job!