Esplorando il Futuro del Cibo: Un'intervista con il CEO di Small Giants sui Prodotti a Base di Insetti: Parte 1

Exploring the Future of Food: An Interview with the CEO of Small Giants on Insect Products

In the pursuit of sustainability and commitment to redefining the future of food, Small Giants, founded by Edoardoprendito and Francesco Majno, has taken an innovative approach by incorporating insects into their food offerings. Recognizing the environmental impact of traditional meat production and inspired by the potential of edible insects, the co-founders embarked on a journey to introduce insect-based products to Western markets. The result? Insect meal-based snacks that not only address the urgent need for sustainable sources of protein, but also challenge cultural taboos related to insect consumption. We explore the fascinating world of insect-based foods through the perspective of Edoardoimpresa, CEO of Small Giants.

How did you get the idea of ​​using insects in food production?

" Our insect snacks were born from our shared commitment to sustainability. Both, my co-founder Francesco and I, were reducing our meat consumption, until I completely eliminated meat. Our search for alternatives to protein led us to a 2013 FAO report titled 'Edible Insects: Future prospects for food and feed security', which highlighted insects as the food of the future. The data highlights the urgent need for sustainable sources of protein, given the projected growth of the global population to 10 billion by 2050 and the environmental impact associated with meat production, underlining the urgency of alternative sources of protein.

Based on this insight, we conducted further research and undertook two trips to South Asia to experiment with different insect products. Despite the love of the experience on a personal level, it turns out that consuming whole insects may not be the most appealing approach for Western countries. As a result, we opted for cricket flour, blending it with familiar ingredients to create products that reflect the shapes and flavors familiar to Western consumers."

What are the main characteristics of your insect-based food products?

"We specialize in two main products: Small Giants Bites and Small Giants Fusilli. The Bites, similar to traditional crackers, contain a unique 15% cricket flour for a high percentage of protein (77%) and sustainability. This allows us to double or triple the protein content of regular snacks. Our Bites, available in Rosemary and Thyme, Tomato and Oregano, Lime and Pepper flavours, appeal to a diverse palate. For our fusilli pasta, enriched with 10% cricket flour, we obtain an exceptional protein content of 22%, much higher than normal pasta. We pride ourselves on ensuring excellent quality and consistency despite the very high protein content, something missing in legume pasta."

How do you ensure high quality and safety standards for your products?

"The key to maintaining the quality of our products lies in our careful selection of the manufacturing partners we collaborate with. To ensure high quality and safety standards for our products, we have made the strategic decision to only work with manufacturers who have rigorous certifications. Initially, we contemplated the idea of ​​producing the items ourselves. However, recognizing the importance of a broader product range and focusing on the mission of promoting edible insects, we have chosen to work exclusively with partners who hold international certifications. This choice is crucial in maintaining the standards we have imposed for our products. Furthermore, when it comes to cricket flour, we only use a certified product that meets high international standards."

What challenges did you face in bringing this concept to market?

"I think even though we took an approach of imitating regular products rather than using whole insects initially, there was still a cultural taboo associated with it , which was completely understandable. Introducing something new, especially in the food field, tends to be met with skepticism due to strong existing habits. I consider overcoming this initial skepticism to be the most crucial step. Fortunately, we have observed an increasing openness towards edible insects recently. With the right information and communications – presented in a fun and whimsical way, not relying solely on scientific papers – we find it to be highly effective in changing people's opinions."

What difficulties have you encountered in establishing insect-based food production, and what has been the initial consumer reaction to your products?

“Initially, when we embarked on insect-based food production and sought international partners, we faced challenges in convincing large producers accustomed to traditional practices to engage in edible insect production. Overcoming this obstacle was crucial to obtaining international certification. Meanwhile, initial consumer reaction to our products has been positive; Although some were initially hesitant due to the novelty, those who tried our innovative insect products were extremely satisfied with the taste and overall experience. Despite the initial challenges, the current landscape is more favorable, and we constantly strive to improve our products. The result is numerous positive reviews and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on our website, and customer satisfaction is the most important indicator."

How do you address consumer stereotypes and prejudices regarding this type of product?

"Tackling consumer stereotypes and prejudices requires a multifaceted approach. First, whenever possible, we give people the opportunity to try our products firsthand. This direct experience is crucial in changing perceptions. Furthermore, we use communication strategies that highlight the benefits of insects precisely. Instead of relying only on scientific terms, we aim for communication that is informative but presented in a fun and whimsical way. This approach not only provides information, but also taps into the emotional aspect, addressing taboos and influencing opinions."

How do you position your products on the market?

"Our products boast a unique selling point, setting them apart in the market. We address a distinct audience that is particularly attentive to sustainability. Our customers are genuinely concerned about the environment and the well-being of our planet. They are attracted to innovation, showing a curiosity and open-mindedness that align with our proposals. Lastly, our target audience is educated and values ​​an active lifestyle. While they are not necessarily avid bodybuilders who spend hours in the gym, they appreciate maintaining a physically active and healthy lifestyle."

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