Sampling a high-protein breakfast buffet, made from bugs

High protein crackers, flour, pasta, and rice made from fruit fly larvae, from Israeli startup The Flying Spark.
High protein crackers, flour, pasta, and rice made from fruit fly larvae, from Israeli startup The Flying Spark.

Eran Gronich invited me over to breakfast at MassChallenge’s waterfront offices a few weeks ago. I brought an iced coffee, and Gronich supplied a spread of crackers, rice, marinara sauce, and flour – all made from fruit fly larvae.

It would have been rude not to at least have a few bites, right?

Gronich’s business, The Flying Spark, is one of two insect protein companies participating in the MassChallenge startup competition; the other is Six Foods, which raised $70,000 on the funding site Kickstarter last year.

Both companies make the point that bugs are high in protein, low in fat, and a more environmentally sustainable food source than cows, pigs, or chickens. Insects are also cholesterol free, unlike a Big Mac. But while Six Foods is selling products like tortilla chips directly to consumers, The Flying Spark says it wants to produce a protein powder made from ground-up fruit fly larvae, and sell it to other companies that are already using protein powders in their products, like nutritional supplements for body builders.

“We think athletes are early adopters,” says Gronich, adding that about 15 companies around the world are developing insect-based foods. “We have only one challenge — and that is the psychological barrier,” he says. “Though people are eating shrimp and lobster and squids. Those are like cockroaches crawling on the bottom of the ocean picking up the trash.”

Production of the powder will happen in Israel, says Gronich, but he has come to Boston to be part of MassChallenge; to try to raise funding; and to meet with supplement makers in the US.

Here’s my taste test…

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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