Thoughts from Chapul's van driver and director...
Our two year anniversary and moving forward (6/28/2014)
This month marks the 2-year anniversary of Chapul launching the ‘The Original Cricket Bar’ which is the United States’ first insect-based nutritional product using our signature cricket flour. Looking back, it is almost overwhelming to see how much has changed, and how far the industry has progressed in such a short amount of time.
Although we have witnessed the growth of an industry from its very infancy, sometimes it takes an outside perspective on how challenging Chapul’s mission is to understand the magnitude of this change. Case in point came from Larry McMannis, a 30+ year executive at Kraft Foods. Larry moderated a scientific session I had the honor of presenting at last weekend in New Orleans at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual conference titled, Real Pioneers: Experience with Insect Products and Marketing. During his tenure at Kraft, he witnessed the launching of thousands of new products and played a key role in their commercialization. In regards to Chapul’s accomplishments, these are Larry’s words:
“ ...starting from scratch to introduce a new product that was so new to the world that there was no ingredient supplier, no infrastructure, no production methods, no retailer to shelve the product, and a consumer mindset that was actually antagonistic toward the idea, that kind of innovation would NEVER happen [at Kraft]. Never. Ever. Not in a million years.
But it is happening somewhere else. Not in a big food company or on a grand scale yet. Big companies almost never take that kind of risk. Instead, it’s happening in the labs and kitchens of entrepreneurs… the people who want to, and likely will, change the world.”
Here is a copy of Larry’s complete article titled, Cricket: Fuel for Entrepreneurial Champions.
The accomplishments of Chapul warrant that we take pause to pat ourselves on the back. By “ourselves” I refer to the true revolutionaries of the insects as food movement who are the early adopters willing to challenge their daily eating habits. Change does not always come easy, and habits, especially our eating rituals developed day in and day out, can be especially challenging to re-wire. However, when it becomes too strikingly obvious that the majority of food available to consumers is both unhealthy, and detrimental to the natural resources needed to sustain future generations, the true revolutionaries step forward.
So two years ago we took a leap of faith into an unproven market, with an undeveloped supply chain, using an ingredient foreign to our cultural palate. However, as of today we now have Chapul bars on store shelves in 29 states and 5 countries, as well as being witness to several new insect-based startups and the growing insect-farming industry. We had faith that you would indeed step forward. . .and step forward you did. And for that, all of us at Chapul extend a sincere and heartfelt ‘thank you.’ Now go ahead, pat yourselves on the back.