Aldi considers stocking edible insects in stores

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Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Would you eat a cricket fajita? What about a mealworm curry?

Well, that’s the kind of thing that Aldi is considering bringing to stores across the country, thanks to its new Channel 4 show, Aldi’s Next Big Thing. 

The series shows the supermarket’s manager of buying on a mission to uncover the most exciting new products out there – and edible insects are one of the prospects she is faced with.

The idea comes from company, Yum Bug (who we’ve actually chatted to at Twisted before).

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Yum Bug serve meal kits and products made with insects (Credit: Channel 4)

Founded by Aaron Thomas and Leo Taylor, Yum Bug is looking to make edible insects mainstream, citing how much better for the environment it is to farm them and their high nutritional value as obvious selling points.

Speaking on the show, Leo said: “Aaron and I have been cooking with insects for years – it started in 2017 with weekends experimenting out of my parents’ garage, cooking up all sorts of recipes and posting content online.

“We then sold our first insect recipe boxes out of our bedrooms in lockdown, and that’s really where everything snowballed.”

“We’re on a mission to change perceptions of insects as food; they’re one of the most sustainable protein sources in the world,” said Aaron.

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Aaron and Leo run edible insects company, Yum Bug (Credit: Channel 4)

“Crickets are up to 70 per cent protein, which is three times the amount of protein found in beef. They’re also got more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and the list keeps going. They are an incredible superfood.”

Yum Bug offer the likes of Roasted Crickets and Yum Bug Mince, to be used as singular ingredients, as well as recipe kits such as Sticky Teriyaki Cricket Stir Fry and Smoky BBQ Cricket Tacos.

The pair ultimately didn’t win a slot on Aldi’s shelves, losing out to Christian – owner of Mud Foods – a pie business.

However, Aldi buyer Julie Ashfield made it clear that she was a fan of the products, and added that she saw a future for them in stores, when customers’ palates were ready. 

“Come back in five years,” she said.

yum bug cricket carbonara edible insects

Yum Bug’s cricket carbonara (Credit: Yum Bug)

“Anyone else now really interested in finding out more about bugs in food? @_yumbug #AldisNextBigThing @AldiUK,” wrote one person after watching the show. 

Whilst another dubbed the idea “helpful for cost of living and the environment”.

A third was less convinced, writing: “Insects are sustainable protein because no one wants to eat them, surely?! #aldisnextbigthing”.

As a fellow critic chimed in: “There’s no way I’m eating bugs!!! An insect burger is a no for me, yuk!”

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Crickets at an insect farm in Vietnam (Credit: Alamy)

Here at Twisted, we actually did some digging into the world of edible insects last year, and it was pretty fascinating stuff.

Whilst it might sound unappetising to many, the consumption of insects can be traced back to the very beginnings of mankind, and there are even references to eating critters in the Old Testament and Ancient Greek scriptures.

It’s not just something that happened in the dark ages, either.

Bugs and insects have always been an integral part of cookery in some parts of Africa, Asia and South America, and two billion people around the globe are eating them as a regular part of their diets today.

Plus, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has been pushing Western countries to follow suit since 2013, hailing critters an “under-utilised” resource, with huge potential when it comes to sustainability and nutritional value.

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Yum Bug’s Goan mealworm curry (Credit: Yum Bug)

Whilst we’re a long way from seeing insects as the starring ingredient in one of Pret’s lunch-time meal deals, or stacked in our local grocery store, they have been slowly and tentatively creeping onto the food scene here in the UK for quite some time.

In fact, Aldi wouldn’t be the first supermarket to stock them. They’ve previously been housed in several supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s back in 2018, but ultimately didn’t remain on shelves.

Intrigued? You can read more about edible insects here.