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Getting to know…Clara Best at Saved Foods - during Insect Week 2024

Clara has always been ‘food adventurous’ right from a little girl, stepping up to taste different foods on family holidays, and setting out to work for PepsiCo, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers. Using her role to get right to the heart of the world of food production, she’s now translated that experience into something new, starting her own business after discovering the incredible health and enviromental potential of insect protein. 

Tell us a little about your background, and how you set up Saved Food.

I’m originally from Switzerland but I came to London to study at CASS Business School (now known as Bayes) and then I worked for a long time, all over the world on the Lays crisps account (that’s Walkers for you Brits) really building my knowledge in food production. In my own life I’d started looking at my diet and health habits, and experimenting with different types of protein like tofu and legumes, but unfortunately they made me really bloated. That’s when I came across insect protein and started trying to incorporate it into my own diet. 

Those experiments led to me thinking about five different products from pasta to granola to tortillas - in each case working out how I could kind of ‘hide’ the cricket protein in among the other ingredients. My product testing showed that crickets are generally more accepted, as a kind of ‘gateway insect’ and so I steered towards them rather than mealworms, which is another popular insect ingredient.   

How did your product develop from there?

As I said, I began on this very small scale, trying out trade shows with my different ideas, and finally made a decision to go with a blended combination of lentils, rice corn and crickets. The texture of the crisps is a bit like a wotsit or a niknak, but they come in different flavours - we now offer five, though I started out with three.

My personal favourite is black pepper, but we also sell paprika, Mediterranean herb, sour cream and onion and mature cheese. You can get them online on our website, via Amazon, in some independent shops and also via various food services where they are included in restaurants and offices. It’s a great way to introduce something new to people in a casual way - for example we now work with Google to make sure their kitchens and brak-out areas are stocked with our healthy snacks. 

Tell us more about how you decided where to manufacture your snacks and why you chose the partners you did?

I started outsourcing my crickets in the UK, but the kind I prefer for the taste are more readily available in Spain, where they’re a little ahead of us in terms of factory set up. At the moment there are not that many suppliers here in the UK, it’s mostly focused on insects for pet food or animal consumption. In the end, I switched to European suppliers and it made sense to keep production of the puffs on the continent too, because of the more complicated aspects of trade laws.

To be honest that’s probably been one of the most complicated parts - finding likeminded people to work with who really understood what I was looking for in terms of the consistency of the snack and the look and feel of the product. 

That’s where UKEIA was quite useful for networking opportunities, sharing questions in a really useful Whatsapp group and collaborating with other brands as I developed my ideas and decided who I wanted to work with in terms of buyers. Of course our joint application for the Novel Food process was also driven by UKEIA and it’s great that they’re still keeping tabs on it and making sure that it happens, I think it’s beyond what we could have done alone, especially connecting to the Belgium Insect Industry Federation and other novel food associations around the globe.  

So, why should everyone be eating Saved puffs? 

There are so many reasons! Here are just a few:

  • Insects are a complete protein which means they contain all nine essential amino acids, making it easier for your body to digest the protein.

  • They are also high in iron, calcium and zinc - and there are the equivalent of 24 crickets to every pack of Saved puffs.

  • Emissions from farming for 1kg of crickets compared to 1kg of beef are the equivalent of driving a petrol car 10.78km or 2,058km!

  • Around 69% of UK flexitarians are searching for the most sustainable and digestible protein - and the need for sustainable proteins is real, as our global population swells.

  • Some veggies and vegans struggle to have sufficient protein - insects could provide a more ethical way to solve these nutrition problems.

  • Crickets are kosher, safe to eat in pregnancy (as long as you do not have a cricket allergy) and are considered to be halal in some parts of the world (though not in others).

  • A cricket’s complete life cycle is around 60-90 days, and from 40-45 days adult females can lay approximately 100 eggs a day, whereas cows live around ten years, have around one calf a year, which lives for two and a half years. 

  • Vertical farming reduces land, Co2, methane and water utilisation compared to intense livestock farming - stacking the shelves allows approximately ten times the yield for a given land area. 

Any messages for aspiring ento-preneurs?

Cricket protein is still a pricy protein alternative compared to other ones. A kilogram of cricket protein costs around £30 compared to £10 for pea protein. But with more demand for cricket protein as people get to understand its benefits, the price will eventually come down. In a way it’s the more the merrier in this market at the moment, and I’d tell any entrepreneur to join UKEIA and come and join the edible insect party!

If you’ve come here to win the insect hamper sign up to our newsletter right now, by heading back to the home page.

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