Thai cricket exports a niche market for nosh

Ask most Americans if they would eat bugs, and all you will hear are crickets. But while insects are a niche market for nosh, Thai food exporters said last week cricket exports are growing to the United States and other countries.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, about 2 billion people around the world consume insects as part of their diets. And in 2018, the New York Times Style Magazine published an article entitled “Why Aren’t We Eating More Insects?” The paper went on to say that; “they’re high in protein, low in cost, eco-friendly and tasty. And only in the West have we resisted them.”

Insects are popular across several regions in Thailand. Since domestic migration for work is regular in the Kingdom, it is a common sight to see pushcart vendors selling about ten different kinds of fried insects on the streets of many cities around the country, including Bangkok.

And they are beginning to catch on as a delicacy in many other regions. The TIME magazine estimated that the business of edible insects in Thailand is worth about the same value as the pizza industry.

Napadol Thongmee, Director of the Thai Trade Center in New York, said that sales of cricket products are expanding in the United States, although total sales are still small.

Target groups are shops in museums and zoos, Hispanic people who normally consume insects, and people who are part of a movement to enhance insect consumption.

“If Thai entrepreneurs can win approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to guarantee their products’ standards, the market will be bigger,” Napadol said.

Crickets, unlike some other insects, are easily farmed. Thailand produces about 7,000 tons of edible crickets each year. While crickets among the more popular insects, grasshoppers are the most popular.

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