UK – Sainsbury’s, the second largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom has agreed to stock edible insect products at its stores, becoming Britain’s first to stock edible bugs.

Sainsbury’s will be launching Smoky BBQ Crunchy Roasted Crickets produced by Eat Grub in 250 stores across the country.

The insect snacks are designed to be eaten alone as a snack or used to garnish dishes such as tacos, noodles or salads.

They can be found online from Eat Grub as whole insects, encouraging consumers to stir-fry grasshoppers and make pizza dough out of crickets, because they are a healthier and more sustainable protein source than meat or tofu.

Suggested recipes for the ready-to-cook bugs include red curry cricket rice cakes, which are similar to fish cakes, buffalo worm macaroni cheese and grilled tempura grasshoppers.

Eat Grub, a start-up founded in 2014 by friends Shami Radia and Neil Whippey, will be the first edible insect company to have its products featured on a major supermarket’s shelf.

The new development offers consumers an alternative source of protein, away from meat production which has attracted debate on their impact on the environment.

Insect production is poised as a sustainable source of protein, and have well caught traction in part of Asia and Africa, while America is continuously growing an appetite for the ‘crawling’ proteins.

“Insect snacks should no longer be seen as a gimmick or something for a dare, and it’s clear that consumers are increasingly keen to explore this new sustainable protein source.

“We’re always looking to provide our customers with new and exciting products, and with the growing interest in edible insects we’re excited to be the first UK supermarket to make these products easily accessible for shoppers across the country,” said Rachel Eyre, head of future brands at Sainsbury’s.

Eat Grub co-founder Shami Radia said: “Currently Insects are eaten worldwide by around two billion people with countries such as Thailand, Mexico and China already recognising them as a delicious food source.

“We’re on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn’t be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient.

“Securing this new listing with Sainsbury’s is a really meaningful step in continuing this journey and reaching more consumers with our message.”

Reports say that by 2024, the North American edible insects market will exceed US$70.5 million, which is a 43% rise from today.

Eating bugs is becoming more popular in some restaurant menus, not only as a source of protein but also an arena to address global food security.

Scientists argue that insets could be the next main source of food given that the global population is rampantly increasing, projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050.