Hargol FoodTech, a company that produces commercial grasshopper protein, announced today that it had raised $3 million from existing shareholders Sirius Venture Capital and SLF Investment Partners. This brings the company’s total funding to $5 million.
With its new funding Hargol plans to expand its production capacity to launch its first insect protein product line, which will be called Biblical Protein.
Based in Israel, Hargol is a portfolio company of The Trendlines Group and has been commercially farming grasshoppers for human consumption since 2014. This will be its first product release. Back in 2018, the company stated that it had already received $5 million in requests for orders of its grasshopper protein from companies like Ikea and Pepsico. Almost exactly two years later it seems like it’s finally prepared to start fulfilling said orders.
Hargol is far from the only company out there in the bug biz. Aspire makes B2B insect protein and acquired consumer-facing cricket bar brand Exo in 2018. Entomo Farms makes roasted crickets and cricket powder, and Orchestra Provisions is trying to entice consumers to eat insects by turning them into spice mixes.
There’s no question that we should be eating bugs — they’re high in protein and amino acids, incredibly sustainable, and easy to produce. But what is unsure is whether or not we’ll ever want to eat bugs. Western consumers may never get over the “ick” factor around eating creepy crawlies, regardless of how high in protein or easy on the environment they are.
Hargol has an advantage in that its grasshoppers are blended up into a powder, so they’re unrecognizable as bugs and can be easily added into other foods, like smoothies or cookies. Still, I’m not sure how ready Western consumers will be to “hop” up and buy a bag of grasshopper powder.
On the flip side, the coronavirus pandemic is making us all take a long, hard look at our food systems and security. Insects have the advantage of being incredibly easy to produce with limited natural resources and space, so maybe COVID-19 will actually help nudge consumers to open their minds to eating bugs.