Interview with Jonathan Fraser Ento Co-founder
London-based food start-up Ento is experimenting in this dynamic space by designing sustainable food made with edible insects.
Yes, you read that correctly and if you reacted skeptically, that is exactly why we need innovators like Ento to help design this protein-packed food source in a way that makes it a little easier for us to swallow (pun intended...sorry).
“We were looking into the problem of global food security -by 2050 food demand is set to double and agricultural productivity cannot keep up - and we came across eating insects as an exciting potential solution.”
What is the story behind Ento’s creation? How did this innovative company get started?
Jonathan Fraser: Ento began as an academic project that our founding team completed whilst studying for our masters degrees at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. We were looking into the problem of global food security - by 2050 food demand is set to double and agricultural productivity cannot keep up - and we came across eating insects as an exciting potential solution. Insects are much more efficient to farm than other sources of meat and are very healthy and tasty, but the challenge of social acceptance was what really interested us.
So we created the Ento brand originally as part of a concept strategy for how we could introduce insects to the western diet, but it received such a great response that we realized we were onto something! After graduating, our team started working on building Ento from an academic project into a commercial reality.
What products does Ento make?
JF: The Ento brand and our foods are designed to overcome the negative preconceptions surrounding insects as food by presenting insects as an exciting, healthy food of the future. We make a range of dishes that present insects in familiar and acceptable formats. We know the idea of eating insects is intimidating for some people, so our foods are designed to be visually appealing as well as delicious. Some of our current recipes include: grasshopper and potato croquettes, honey caterpillar pancakes with cream cheese, and cricket pâté.
In what way are these products considered more sustainable?
JF: Feed efficiency is the primary reason that insects are more sustainable than other sources of meat - they produce more protein for the same amount of feed that you would use for traditional livestock. Ten kilograms of feed can produce nine kilograms of grasshopper meat, but only one kilogram of beef. Insects can also be farmed at a higher density, so they require less land, and they also need less water.
Where can people find Ento products?
JF: Unfortunately, our products are not yet available to purchase online or in stores. However, we are currently in the build-up to a crowdfunding campaign, which will allow us to launch our first product and reach a lot more customers, and we plan to announce the campaign in early 2015.