There are few things more stereotypical of American youth than chowing down on a burger, fries, and maybe a chocolate shake. But what if that burger was made of insects? Enter: Bugfoundation.
At the moment, these healthy, sustainable, and “bugelicious” burgers are sold in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the team has plans for expansion. The team is made up of some quirky individuals from Germany with a mission to contribute to a sustainable agriculture, global food security, and decrease malnutrition in developing countries. I had to know more.
I reached out to Baris Özel with some questions about Bugfoundation to get the inside scoop. Read below for our interview!
Aly: What’s your origin story? How did you first get interested in the world of edible insects?
Özel: The good smell of fried insects on Bangkok’s streets aroused our interest. Than we tried and it was super tasty.
Aly: Tell me a little about Bugfoundation – why did you decide to start the company?
Özel: After we (Max Krämer and Baris Özel – Founders) were back from a world trip, where we tried several insects, Max wrote his Bachelor thesis about insects as food. In this he compared the meat industry with the potential insect industry, where he found a lot of benefits for eating insects. Max and me are best friends [of] 17 years and we already founded a company in another sector. We have always been a great team as we are quiet opposite but can combine our different strengths in a fun and productive way.
After scanning the market and a couple of tastings we decided to found our company Bugfoundation with the aim of opening up a whole new food segment…
Aly: Who’s on the team?
Özel: Beside Max Krämer and me, there is: Max Kultscher. From time to time we also call him, “structure”. Even when the whole office is in panic due to deadlines and work overloads – Max keeps calm and works his way through the madness.
He has a goal-oriented work method true to the motto “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” [He is] responsible for IT and business development. Furthermore, our lovely employees Carolin and Jörn, who always find a way to achieve Bugfoundation’s goals even if there is no way. Sometimes we think they are magicians.
Aly: Bug Burgers seem to be a great way to introduce people to a new food source. How do you convince people who are uncomfortable with the idea of edible insects to try your product?
Özel: First of all we show our customers our burger. Visually nothing reminds [of bugs on our] insect burger, because there are no insects or parts of insects in our burger to see. Afterwards we fry our burger in the pan, where it gets gold brown and smells delicious. After it is gold brown and smells good, we let our customers taste. Luckily, almost everyone is convinced straight away after their first try.
Aly: What’s your view on edible insects for vegans?
Özel: They should stay vegan 🙂
Aly: Have you faced any regulatory issues with the bug burgers?
Özel: Of course. The novel food regulations prevent, that we start sales for example also in Germany. We have to wait for 2018, but until than, we’ll focus on the Netherlands and Belgium.
Aly: What is your favorite insect recipe?
Özel: Serious question? Of course: The Bux Burger 🙂
Aly: What’s next for Bugfoundation? What are you most looking forward to?
Özel: We have a strategic step by step mentality in our company. But what ever we do, we do it the best way we can do it. Next steps are the expansion of our sales in the Netherlands and Belgium. We are looking forward to tell people, that they can buy the Bux Burger soon in more and more stores.
Aly: If you didn’t get swept into the field of edible insects, what do you think you would be working on right now?
Özel: Somewhere else, where I love my work.
Needless to say, it’s hard not to fall in love with the team at Bugfoundation after getting a taste of their personalities that are just as deliciously quirky as their burgers are. I’m eager for the burgers to show up in my neck of the woods soon!
Shop bug burgers in Belgium at: B34 Steak and Burger House
Support Bugfoundation by visiting their website here: http://bugfoundation.com/