Source: BUGEATER LABS submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Aug 1, 2016
Project End Date
Mar 31, 2017
Grant Year
Project Director
Kopf, J.
Recipient Organization
800 PST STE 300
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
The global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050 with food demand to increase by 70% during that time (van Huis, A. et. al, 2015 and Shockley, 2014). Nearly 200 million children worldwide suffer from malnutrition with the World Health Organization estimating that 54% of child mortality is the result of malnutrition (Shockley, 2014). With land and water use already stressed with food production (70% of all agricultural land and 30% of total land is used to raise livestock), along with the measured effect of animal production on greenhouse gas emissions and ammonia waste, another viable, sustainable, and scalable source of nutrient rich food must be explored to meet the rising food demand and address the current global rates of malnutrition (Shockley, 2014). Bugeater Labs wants to introduce a protein source that is more sustainable than today's top national protein sources with insect protein. While utilizing insects for food is not a new concept, one of the main challenges to brodar use of insects as a major human food source throughout the world, especially in the United States and Europe, is meeting the challenge of "how to turn insects into safe, healthy, and tasty food products. (Shockley, 2014)." Creating widespread acceptance, innovation in products, and ensuring high value nutrients, are essential to meeting the growing food demand over the next 35 years. The main methods for this project will be trial and error. Bugeater Labs will be running extrusion trials (production trials) of insect rice and pasta with insect. Each product created will be tasted, cooked, and have nutritional analysis ran on them to find the best overall product for consumers. Once 2-3 options are decided a sensory evaluation will be done to see any consumer suggestions and to find the best product. We will conduct economic feasibility research through out the process to asure this product is cost effective for both the company and consumers. In the end it is expected to have created a product that is acceptable for most consumers and have increased nutrition content over non-insect fortified competitors. Bugeater Labs' goal is to increase consumption of insect-based products in an effort to meet the growing population's food demands on limited resources while growing the insect industry to drive down costs and speed adoption. The innovation in our project is creating insect products that mimic traditional staple foods and provide high-value nutrients for widespread adoption in the market. By incorporating insects into traditional staple foods, we believe will see acceptance grow faster and allow for the development of more insect based food products. This will create a new protein source that can address some food security issues and lessen the environmental impact of other sources.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
Our first goal is to find the insect the works best in our products.Technical Objective 1: Narrow down to 4 input insects for trials and analysis.Cooking trials- some insect proteins and nutrients might completely denature when cooking.Nutrient profile- each insect will have and give a different flavor, nutrient benefit, and nutritional basis.Small-scale batch extrusion trials - some insect powders may not run through an extruderOur second goal would be make a viable food product.Technical Objective 2: Create for trial two different traditional-mimicking food items from insect types deemed responsive in Objective 1.Run extruding trials for pasta and ricePeform small quality tests like moisture and water activityPeform Cooking trialsPerfom tasting trialsOur third goal will depend on the outcomes of our first two goals. Through our extrusion trials we hope to find the best overall product for consumers.Technical Objective 3: Complete additional nutrient, taste, texture analysis on the narrowed down developed food items.UNL and Medallion Labs will be completing all the nutritional analysis, sensory analysis and any other analysis.Our last goal is to make this economic feasable.Technical Objective 4: Explore economic feasibility.Bugeater Labs will explore the input and processing costs of the approved formulas. During this time, to determine costs, the PI will be in contact with possible packaging and co-packing companies. This may be difficult as some processors may not be interested in processing insect powder on the same equipment as other products. This will pave the way for Phase III commercialization. By the end of Phase I, we will have two viable formulas for further testing and development to be completed in Phase II and be ready to introduce into the market by Phase III.
Project Methods
Technical Objective 1: Narrow down to 4 input insects for trials and analysis.Research insect sources and nutritional profilesEach insect has a unique make up of proteins, nutrients, carbohydrates, and flavors. These will affect the processing, flavor, nutritional profile, and other pasta or rice characteristics. By researching each suggested insect (based on research already done on insect nutritional profiles as well as availability, texture, taste), the research team will determine four insects to be used for the next objective. The team will then conduct preliminary cooking trials of the insect base, nutrient profile analysis, small batch extrusions if possible.In determining the best insects to use for the cooking trials, Bugeater Labs, along with the UNL's Product Development Lab will research the following as it relates to each insect:Cooking trials- some insect proteins and nutrients might completely denature when cooking.Nutrient profile- each insect will have and give a different flavor, nutrient benefit, and nutritional basis.Small-scale batch extrusion trials - some insect powders may not run through an extruder.Timeframe for this objective will be from June 2016-August 2016 with the milestone being viable insect input for additional trials.Medallion Labs will be running a full nutritional analysis on the choice of insects to see what nutritional value is available. They will also be running a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) on cricket, mealworm, and other desired insect. This will show data on absorption rates of insects with the body.Technical Objective 2: Create for trial two different traditional-mimicking food items from insect types deemed responsive in Objective 1.Bugeater Labs, PI, Julianne Kopf, will develop multiple formulations based on the research completed in the first objective tasks. At each point in the research, Ms. Kopf will evaluate each formulation and adjust as needed, having the research team from UNL repeat steps/trials to narrow down the formulations at each objective milestone point.Extrude pasta, rice or noodlesBugeater Labs will complete extrusion trials at UNL's Pilot Plant. Different formulation, moisture levels, pressure levels, and cutting levels will be explored to get the best combination. Approximately, 5-20 different trials will be run depending on the research of the insect source. Also different types of pasta shapes can be explored to see what the best option per insect source is, with rice and pasta both tested. Rice will be extruded on a single screw extruder, and pasta will be extruded on a pasta extruder. Both types of products will undergo a drying process.Parameters to be measured on the extruders:Moisture levelPressure levelScrew speedBlade speed or cutting speedShape of the productSize of the productFormulation changes that may be made:Types of insect powderLevels of insect powderLevels of other ingredients - salt, gums, butter or flourMoisture AnalysisAfter the extrusion process, moisture analysis water activity will be completed by the PI in the pilot plant. These products need to have certain moisture contents for standard of identity as well as for safety. This will be performed at the University of Nebraska. The PI will be using the Ohaus Moisture Analyzer and Aqua Lab Water Activity Reader. Certain levels of water activity will give rise to mold or other bacteria. The target water activity is .8 or below, anything higher than .87 will lead to mold and bacteria. The optimal target for pasta or rice product would be between 9-14% moisture. Target water activity - .8 or below Target moisture content - 9%-14%Cooking TrialsCooking trials will be completed by Bugeater Labs at the University of Nebraska's Product Development Lab. These trials explore how the pasta or rice cooks. The stability of the product and what times and temperatures of cooking will be tested and verified. This will be completed with rice cookers or stove, pot, and lid.VariablesCook timeTemperatureDifferent ways of cookingDifferent types of cooking utensilsTasting TrialsAfter cooking, the product will be tasted. The many factors that affect a person's response to the taste (sensory, appearance, aftertaste, etc) will all be analyzed for success in mimicking the intended staple food. Taste will drive adoption and sales. Multiple formulas will be used and products/formulas that do not pass the taste test will be eliminated. Each formulation will be tasted. This will be an informal tasting with the UNL staff or other willing participants available at time of tasting.Tasting CharacteristicsAppearanceOverall tasteAftertasteOff flavorsOdd notesTextureChewing abilityHardnessSmellMultiple formulas will be tested, evaluated, reworked and retested during this phase. It is expected to be complete by the end of September 2016.Technical Objective 3: Complete additional nutrient, taste, texture analysis on the narrowed down developed food items.Nutritional analysisNutritional analysis will be completed on each formulation to evaluate multiple nutrients and their levels. This will be completed and compared to determine which formulation, as deemed viable so far, to utilize as well as to provide nutrient analysis for the future research and sale. This will be completed at the University of Nebraska Food Processing Center. The test and nutrient identified is listed below.Protein - Dumas Combustion Method. This will show a nitrogen level, which will be converted to protein content.Iron- Atomic AbsorptionZinc- Gas ChromatographyFatty Acid Analysis- FAMEs% Fat- Soctlex Hexane Extraction% Carbs- subtraction% Moisture- Gravimetric Method% Ash- Gravimetric MethodMedallion Labs will also be doing analytical work on the end product to calculate the vitamin and minerals.Allergenicity testingThis will be completed at the UNL Food Allergy Resource Program (FARP Lab) on the end product to verify safety. This will test the protein similarity to crustacean or any other big eight allergies that will affect labeling. Current research indicates the cricket protein is very similar to crustacean's allegoric protein and needs to be labeled crustacean allergy.Sensory StudyA sensory test will be completed to explore the preferred formulation. This will be completed at UNL's Sensory Lab. The tests may include the 9-Point Hedonic, JAR Line Test, the preference test, or what the UNL scientist sensory suggests. The Hedonic Test has a 9-Point Scale from which to judge different aspects of the food item. This helps rate testing acceptance. The JAR Line Test measures a line with two extremes at each end and the middle as just about right (JAR). The preference test shows the participant's preferred sample. The Hedonic shows data on individual characteristics. These tests provide data on the sensory characteristics of the product to present (to consumers), make the product better, and to help determine which formulation is the best.9-Point Hedonic ScaleLike ExtremelyLike Very MuchLike ModeratelyLike SlightlyNeither Like nor DislikeDislike SlightlyDislike ModeratelyDislike Very MuchDislike ExtremelyThese tasks will be completed by the end of December 2016.Technical Objective 4: Explore economic feasibility.Economic AnalysisBugeater Labs will explore the input and processing costs of the approved formulas. During this time, to determine costs, the PI will be in contact with possible packaging and co-packing companies. This may be difficult as some processors may not be interested in processing insect powder on the same equipment as other products. This will pave the way for Phase III commercialization.

Progress 08/01/16 to 03/31/17

Target Audience:Bugeater Labs will initially focus on three types of customers. The first are consumers who are looking for a high protein and nutrient-rich food product for their diet. Generally, these consumers want more protein or iron (anemic individuals) in their diet, or are vegetarians. Also, generally in this group are consumers who make environmentally conscious purchasing decisions. The second type of customer is the food service industry as Bugeater Labs plans to provide the products as ingredients to other food processors. We plan to target this market 3-5 years after launching. The third target customers are government and non-government organizations that help with poverty, hunger, and disaster relief. The estimated production and packaging cost of some formulations trialed in Phase I for insect rice is $3.87 per unit (200-250 grams). A specialty rice will have better ingredients and different formulation which will increase the cost. Bugeater Labs will focus on B2B sales with our consumer markets to include specialty markets and traditional grocery stores (such as GNC, Whole Foods and HyVee - all of whom we have established relationships). These initial product placements will be small allowing us to validate our product and establish a foothold. After initial success in those markets, our plan includes expanding the insect- based pasta, rice, and noodle products (and related flavoring packets) to the food service distributor industry including companies like Sysco and US Foods. Additionally, Bugeater Labs is open to licensing the technology. Finally, once the company operations are solid and sustainable through product sales, government markets will be targeted. This would include conducting market research and considering contracting to USAID, NASA, or the Department of Defense. Bugeater Labs will work closely with the SBA's STEP program in Nebraska to ready the company and market the product for export to the EU and Asia as first targeted countries. Changes/Problems:There were only two major changes in our application. 1) The proposal insects, mainly grasshoppers, were not readily available for human consumption and shipping in the U.S. So super worms and buffalo worms were acquired for testing. These two species didn't seem reasonable to use in product testing but still are a good option for the future. 2) An official sensory test was not completed due to complications through the IRB approval process. This was changed through the USDA system. These tests will be added to the Phase 2 application. Unofficial sensory tests were completed and positive results were achieved.? What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Bugeater Labs were given the oppurtunity to attend the Expo West Natural Product Show and the Fancy Food Show. These two shows help us establish supplier and manufacturingcontacts as well as mentors in our area of the food industry. Marketing and showcasing plans were created from seeing other company exposing their products. Bugeater Labs also attended Larta Commericalization and USDA webinars to help with preparing the phase 2 commercialization plan, Phase 2 application, and Final Phase 1 paperwork. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Our main community outreach has been through tv news stations and newspaper articles. Through the phase 1 period we have multiple newspaper articles and 3 news station tv spots. These have help with getting the word and our accomplishments out into the community. Bugeater labs has also had two tasting events to get feedback on our products. These were positive events that helped with promotion. Some finalized product was sent to a Bugs End Hunger campaign in Colorado to spread awereaness of edible insects.The participants in this campaign have been regularly eating our product. They feedback has been helpful in understanding consumer preference and cooking drawbacks. Our product has been sent to chefs as well for feedback. Most of these chefs put their stuff on social media to get more community support. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

What was accomplished under these goals? Success to date from Phase I: Objective 1: Obtained 5 species of insects to investigate. With these nutritional profiles, mock nutritional profiles can be created to predict if the formula will be worth researching for future projects. This has allowed us to set our inputs for Phase II. Objective 2: Reached a 25% insect formula rice and pasta products. Removed gum from the formulation to make it a clean label product; marketed as all-natural to more customers. Reached a 15% insect formula for noodles. Objective 3 Compared to a white rice, cricket rice had improved nutritional analysis. More than 300% or 7 fold increase in protein. According to the USDA there is 3.2 g of protein per 100 g sample of white rice. Cricket rice samples that were sent in for analysis had 16-19 g of protein in a 100 g sample. Increases in iron, dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Developed multiple formulations using cricket and mealworm that can be used for macaroni, penne, and noodles. Comparing insect pasta to traditional pasta, protein and zinc increased; protein doubled in some formulas. Comparing insect noodle to traditional noodle, iron, protein, magnesium, and zinc increased. Positive feedback from initial taste trials from chefs and insect enthusiasts; positive promotion will increase markets, demand, and excitement. Objective 4: Economic feasability study was completed. Compared to the high end high protein pasta and rice on the market our price point is very simliar. Price will drop once final comanufacturer and suppliers are established. Insect powder, the most expensive ingredient, has been going down in price, so this will also decrease the product. Our product wil be at the right price point once prices go down and right connections are made for production.


  • Type: Other Status: Under Review Year Published: 2017 Citation: This a patent pending application.