Tracking Retail Cricket Powder Prices

Person pointing at a chart (from the Internet Archive)
Person pointing at a chart (from the Internet Archive)

I have been following the field of entomophagy (insects as food) for a while: watching the news, and occasionally writing news roundups or more detailed pieces (see archive section below).  So I have been wondering, as news coverage has increased, new products are launched, and companies start scaling up their insect-rearing operations, what is happening to retail cricket powder prices?

In early 2015, I started recording the retail price of 100% pure cricket powder at a handful of on-line stores (shipping costs were not considered).  The results of these surveys are shown in the chart below (from my collection of charts at Tableau Public).


Cricket Powder Prices Vary Among Suppliers, Have Been Stable Lately

Suppliers’ prices vary significantly, with a spread of about 20-30% from the average and one consistent low cost supplier (“source 5”). Overall, the retail price has been stable over the period of study with an average retail price of pure cricket powder of about $40 per pound.

Each supplier’s price has also been stable:  in the last 12 months, none of the suppliers I monitor have changed their retail price.

These are not terribly shocking results, but I am still a little surprised by 12 months of price stability.  This is a newly developing market, and it takes time to scale up and optimize — the teams building insect farming infrastructure need time to acquire land and farming space, develop more efficient farming techniques, increase processing capacity, and build distribution networks.  (And, of course, they’ll need many more customers.)

My price survey has some deficiencies. The first is that it considers retail prices, while the major action in cricket powder is probably at the wholesale level (e.g., sales to manufacturers like Bitty Foods and Exo) and so it would be better to be tracking wholesale prices. These aren’t as readily available.  The second is about shipping: some companies offer free shipping for orders above certain amounts, others charge for shipping on all orders. For example, in the June 2016 survey, the low-price option charges $11 for shipping, the high-price option includes shipping, one company sets its free shipping limit below the price of a pound of cricket powder, another sets it above the price of a pound.

A recent article at Fast Company about Aspire’s automated cricket farming operation has Aspire’s CEO putting the wholesale price at around $20 per pound, with some low cost options around $10 per pound.

Will the USDA Ever Track Crickets Like They Track Cattle, Hogs or Poultry?

If the industry grows significantly, real food data experts might step in to monitor prices.  One group of food data experts is the staff of the USDA’s Economic Research Service, which has built an amazing collection of data and reports about agricultural products and markets — data products like the aquaculture dataset 1; or monthly reports like “Monthly average price values at the farm, wholesale, and retail stages for selected cuts of beef, pork, and broilers;” or charts like the one on the below.

USDA ERS livestock prices
Livestock prices from USDA Economic Research Service

 

I didn’t find anything about insects as food at the Economic Research Service, but perhaps someday the Service will start tracking the industry, publishing a monthly “Insect Outlook,” and compiling data about “Monthly average price values at the farm, wholesale, and retail stages for selected species of edible insects.”

Archive
My previously posted pieces about insects as food:

If you want to closely follow what is happening in the entomophagy movement, three great places to start are the Twitter feeds of @AnaCDay, @littleherds, and @4EntoFOOD (to name a few of the good ones that are out there).  Ana C. Day also runs an entomophagy news collection service on the Scoop.it service.

Image Credits
Person pointing at a chart is from page 752 of “Illinois Agricultural Association record [microform]” (January 1944- December 1949) from Internet Archive’s Flickr collection, no known copyright restrictions.  Agricultural price chart is from the USDA Economic Research Service, not subject to copyright (U.S. Government product).

Originally published July 9, 2016, updated approximately every 6 months since then. The August 30, 2017 update added price information from a post at Fast Company, and changed “cricket flour” to “cricket powder,” a term that is more accurate and preferred in the industry (see, for example, this tweet from @ISFFInsects.) 

Note

  1. The aquaculture dataset has “Statistics on domestically grown catfish and trout and U.S. imports and exports of fish and shellfish that may be products of aquaculture, such as salmon, shrimp, and oysters”

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