In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published a report suggesting that the human consumption of insects may solve some of the world’s major food-sustainability problems. The popular report opened a dialogue about why so much of the world considers insects an edible and quality source of protein, but the Western world does not.

We recently welcomed Leo Taylor, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of London-based Yum Bug, to the podcast to chew on this chirpy topic. Leo grew up in 13 different countries across Southeast Asia and Africa and remembers many of those cultures eating insects. While studying architecture at university, Leo met his future business partner, who was studying entomology. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the two began cooking with insects which quickly grew into a recipe-box business.

Now, their company Yum Bug, which turns crickets into protein that can take the shape of burgers and brisket, is attracting early-stage investment capital and espousing a future where insects are a fixture of the Western diet. In a recent appearance on Double Take, Leo detailed how perceptions around eating bugs are changing.

This actually is an insanely good food. It should not be weird. We love prawns in the West, and actually, prawns and crickets are related. If you are allergic to shellfish, you might also be allergic to crickets. There is no good reason why we are ripping the heads of prawns, sucking their brains out and calling that delicious, when crickets, for some reason, are not… they are sustainable and highly nutritious. The challenge for us is: how are we going to shift these perceptions around insects from something that is seen as a bit weird and strange, and maybe a little disgusting, to something that people aspire to, ‘I would love crickets for dinner? That is the journey that we are taking people on. Obviously, the business case, if we can do that, if we do our jobs properly, and if the timing is right, which we believe it is, then certainly, this is a brand-new category in gastronomy, in food.

Leo Taylor, CEO and co-founder of Yum Bug

Thousands of insects are edible, and in Taylor’s opinion, each has a distinct flavor profile and texture. He is partial to crickets.

For many reasons, crickets are, we think, one of the tastiest. There is also a long cultural history around eating insects. A lot of the people who have eaten insects might have had crickets, and if they have gone off traveling in Southeast Asia or in Mexico, it is one of the more familiar insects as opposed to a caterpillar, or a black soldier fly, aka maggots, mealworms. Some of these other ones are just a little bit scarier. Nutritionally, crickets are one of the most nutritionally dense insects. It really helps from that perspective. You are looking at three times the protein of beef in a roasted cricket.

Leo Taylor

Crickets are also one of the only insect species that can be manufactured and sold in the UK and Europe.

A big part of this is introducing a more sustainable ingredient to the food system. Crickets are one of the only insects that are farmed in the UK, so having that local source, and keeping the food miles low, is also a big part of the story. For all of those reasons, it is crickets for the moment, but we would absolutely love to expand that to grasshoppers.

Leo Taylor

According to Taylor, the supply chain for edible insects is nascent and relies on supply from farmers who sell insects to reptile or pet owners to feed lizards, tarantulas and fish. The next step is turning the commodity into an ingredient that looks like food. This involves mincing the crickets, adding flour or pea protein and seasoning, then either roasting or sous viding the concoction.

The food has to taste good, otherwise, no one is going to come back for more. If you could do those five steps, then you get someone who’s walking away thinking, ‘Actually, this is just food.’ It is not just food. It is better for the planet; it is better for me and tastes delicious. Next time I am thinking of having a chili, or whatever it is, chili con carne, I might stick some cricket mince in instead of beef mince… We want to get to a position where there are others in this space. We want to get to a position where you have got the big seafood market brands trying to copy us because it means that things are working. It means the market is there and growing.

Leo Taylor

To hear more, subscribe to “Double Take” on your podcast app of choice or view the Bug Appetit? episode page to listen in your browser.


Jack Encarnacao

Jack Encarnacao

Research analyst, investigative, Specialist Research team

Raphael J. Lewis

Raphael J. Lewis

Head of specialist research

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