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Not so creepy crawlies: How Tomorrow Foods is using insects to create a sustainable, everyday food line

Are New Zealanders brave enough to start incorporating insects as part of their every day diet? Matt Genefaas and Dan Craig think so. The pair previously co-founded Eat Crawlers, a novelty gift edible insect company (think chocolate coated tarantulas and scorpion lollipops) which won Idealog's 2017 Most Creative wildcard award, in 2013. Now, they have just launched stage two of the master plan: Tomorrow Foods, which features ingredients and foods that are made sustainably using alternative ingredients, such as insect-based high protein products. This new line of alternative products, which includes cricket protein pasta, will be available in supermarkets throughout New Zealand. Genefaas shares how they got Kiwis thinking about insects through novelty gifts, and how that's led them to move into more serious products.

Idealog: What is the difference between Tomorrow Foods and Eat Crawlers, and why did you decide to differentiate?
 
Matt Genefaas: Eat Crawlers was essentially stage one and Tomorrow Foods is stage two of the master plan. When we started Eat Crawlers five years ago, it was the first time a company had every offered edible insect to the market, it was a completely new concept and with that came a significant amount of education to help consumers understand why we should be looking at insects as a food source. Our goal was to get the mass market looking at and talking about insects, they way we achieved this was by taking a novel approach on edible insects – making them fun, exciting and giftable – that way we were able to begin the discussion about why we should be looking at insects as a serious food product. Now after doing a number of consumer shows across New Zealand and having sold 1000’s of Eat Crawlers products, we were at a place where we were confident with the knowledge consumers had of the benefits of insects such as the high protein levels, sustainability and environmental benefits. That way, when it was time to release Tomorrow Foods, consumers were well aware of the benefits and were ready to purchase FMCG food products that are made with cricket flour etc.

Did you see a demand in the market for insects being integrated into meals, rather than just ingredients or treats or novelty items?
 
We have noticed that the market has really shifted lately and consumers are leaning towards products that are organic and healthy. There have been a number of developments in the health-food sector in recent years, such as plant-based meat products, hemp and other superfoods that were’t getting any attention in the past, that are now widely accepted and totally mainstream, so cricket flour, and products made using cricket flour fits in well in this area with consumers being open to try products in that category. People now know about the benefits of eating insects from the years of education we have done and Kiwis have definitely been keen to try and support the insect movement!

Banana pancakes made with cricket powder 
 
What shops will be stocking Tomorrow Food’s products?

Our goal is to have Tomorrow Food’s products available in all leading supermarkets nationwide. We also have a big focus on having the products available in health-food stores and other specialty food stores.
 

Creamy cashew and lemon protein pasta
 
Do you have much competition in the New Zealand market as of yet, or is what Tomorrow Foods doing pretty unique?
 
I like to think what we are doing is totally unique. We have been the market leaders for years with Eat Crawlers. Tomorrow Foods is not just about the food, it’s about a lifestyle. We are a high end food product, with just as much focus going into the packaging and design as we the the product development itself. Aside from that, we aren’t limiting ourselves to just using insect based protein products. We are all about alternative proteins, so you could expect to see new product development coming from us using ingredients like hemp, chia and other amazing super foods. We are extremely excited about the future of the brand.
 

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