In Latin America, insects are not commonly consumed as a food source and a few industrial-scale enterprises are using the potential of insects in nutrition for human consumption. In Colombia, Arthrofood is the first and only initiative that creates a cricket’s production plant and cricket to be processed into meal.
Universidad Externado de Colombia
Gustavo A Yepes López
The innovation is in the process, the product, and the business model as follows:
First, the sustainable insects’ production consists of two and a half months since incubation, rearing and then to be processed into meal. It is completely friendly and responsible for the environment because the production requires 28.000 liters less of water, 7 times less food, 10 times less space, 100% reduction in greenhouse effect emissions in comparison with conventional meat.
Arthrofood will bring to the market natural products like cricket flour, the formulation of energy bars or snacks that are rich in nutrients and high protein content. The types of clients are first the end consumer like sportspeople, vegetarian, adults and children with food restrictions; second the clients are business-to-business, distributors and entrepreneurs.
In terms of new social business model, the company is partnered with two well-known universities in Colombia: Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Universidad de la Sabana to get approval for a project, financed by the Cundinamarca’s government, to build a Pedagogical Center to empower and involved rural women in the value chain business. In addition, a German nongovernment organization, Rhein-Donau-Stiftung probably will provide financial support to strengthen the pilot. In this center, rural women can be trained in entrepreneurship, they will be taught how to grow, cultivate, process, and sell insects and later the company will buy their production. Therefore, this vulnerable population can generate income and opportunities for economic and social growth.
Diego Cruz, president of Arthrofood
"Helping the food security, mitigating climate change and generating employment for rural women are my objectives in life" says Diego Cruz president of the company. In the future, he dreams about turning Arthrofood into a research center on insects.
He is a biologist who had always had the mindset and interest in seeking productive alternatives of any kind that will not pollute the environment. The idea of Arthrofood started towards the end of 2014, technological development was born in the academy and based on research using scientific knowledge and the expertise of international organizations. When he was finalizing his doctorate at the University of Lleida in Spain, he found a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that informs about the potential that insects have for food security and how they can help generate income for the vulnerable population in developing countries. Based on this report and his previous background in the production of insects, Diego, with the support of his tutor, proposed a research project to the European Union to develop methodologies to produce insects industrially, transform them into flour and introduce them to the market into products.
The business is based “to do things well” where wealth is shared equally, the activities that the company does are thinking of doing good to the planet so insects offer a significant opportunity to merge traditional knowledge and modern science in both developed and developing countries (FAO, 2013). Cricket flour for human consumption, is an excellent source of high quality protein, it contains 9 essential amino acids, essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and 6, it also has a high amount of macro and micro minerals such as Vitamin B12, iron, calcium, fiber and zinc.
On the other hand, the processes of red meat production lead to be the main responsible for global warming, deforestation, greenhouse gases, loss of biodiversity and acidification of the oceans in the world. In the scenery of climate change, the planet has the need to use alternative sources of protein much more efficient in the use of natural resources, so the crickets’ production use 28.000 liters of water less, 10 times less space, and 7 times less food to produce the same amount of protein as beef.
Arthrofood has won important awards like Campus Iberus in 2015, Everis Colombia 2016 and Chivas Ventures Colombia 2018, these had helped the business to raise seed capital of approximately $90.000. According to a report from Barclays, edible insects are set to become an $8 billion business by 2030, so in terms of sales, the company has a net profit projection of $470.000 in the next 5 years.
From an environmental point of view, the production and consumption of insects is a more efficient alternative to the production of conventional meat, for example, producing a kilogram of beef requires 30.000 liters of water (water that a person spends for a year takes a 5-minute shower) while producing 1 kg of cricket protein requires 28.000 liters less. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, 1 kg of beef generates the same as driving a car for 67 kilometers compared to 1 kg of cricket protein generate 100 times less of these emissions, also requires less space and less food, therefore this is reflected in less deforestation, use of water and food.
On a social level, it is identified that rural women in poverty conditions in Colombia have very low incomes (76 dollars a month), they do not have access to technology, access to credit, and their time is used for housework. Therefore, the future project of the company is to empower these women to turn them into micro entrepreneurs, who owns their crickets farms or other productive projects based on insects. It will generate opportunities for economic growth so they will receive 79% more income than other labors
Diego Cruz Fagua, Founder & President
Diego Cruz Fagua, Diego Cruz, president of Arthrofood
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Business Website: https://arthrofood.co/
Year Founded: 2018
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Arthrofood SAS is a social enterprise which makes industrial production of crickets and then transformation into cricket flour for being used as a protein ingredient in the food industry or substitute of conventional meat for final consumers.