Danielle Petricevic and Alejandra Perez Fernandez, co-founders of self-funded start-up Ento, hope their new product ‘entovegan’ will resonate with the growing number of nutrition- and environment-conscious consumers in the UK.
The ladies both grew up in areas where the health benefits of insects were common knowledge.
“Growing up in Mexico, the most commonly eaten insect there is the cricket. We had them on tacos or just as a snack with salt and lemon or chili,” said Perez Fernandez.
“It’s well known there that they’re really healthy. It’s the kind of stuff your grandmother tells you when you’re a kid.
Likewise, Petricevic had a similar experience growing up in South Korea.
They both moved to the UK over ten years ago and it was around four years ago that they met at the school gates and finally realized their
common interest in bringing this essential food source to local plates.
“One afternoon, shortly before COVID hit, we were talking about entomophagy (the eating behavior of insects), and we both saw a market for alternative proteins using insects.”
Coming from a background in graphic design and economics, nutrition was a completely new space for the two founders.
And as if that wasn’t enough, COVID arrived shortly after they started planning their business and they found themselves acting as home teachers while trying to grow the business.
Inevitably, the pandemic caused delays throughout the process, but their launch product, Ento Cacao Protein Blend, was made available D2C online a few weeks ago and it also launched on Amazon last week. last (November 1st).
Perez explains how their product, consisting of edible protein from mealworms, peas and brown rice, differs from other insect proteins on the market.
“We think our product is more versatile than some others on the market aimed at gym goers. You can bake with the powder and add it to your breakfast cereal. It’s even great for making healthy snacks for the children.
Perez Fernandez adds: “We also think the flavor is much better than other insect proteins on the market. Ours has good quality non-alkalized cocoa, so it has a more decadent taste and better nutritional profile than alkalized cocoa.”
The founders claim that cricket powder provides over 60% protein (more than chicken, beef, peas, beans, lentils, soy and eggs) as well as over 20 vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, plus 7.7g of essential amino acids, including all BCAAs and digestive enzymes, creating a highly digestible and bioavailable protein. The mix also contains zero added sugar, additives or preservatives.
In terms of sustainability credentials, the founders explain that crickets produce 80 times less methane than cattle and their production requires minimal land, water and feed.
The ladies focused their marketing efforts on in-store and gym tastings, which allowed them to explain the health benefits and dispel flavor concerns.
“Most people are really willing to try edible insects. Few people have encountered them before, but they are really open to trying new things and they are really pleasantly surprised by the taste,”said Perez Fernandez.
Petricevic adds: “Vegans and vegetarians seem equally eager to try this alternative as they share the same philosophy of environmental sustainability.”