Wairarapa Bakery Breadcraft has begun ground-breaking research, funded by Callaghan Innovation, to explore the health benefits of crickets for gut health.

Breadcraft has a Massey University Food Technology student working on-site for ten weeks during the summer period, funded by a Callaghan Innovation R&D Work Experience Grant.

"We're excited to take the first steps to identify and extract some of the health-promoting compounds in crickets. Early overseas research has revealed the potential for crickets to improve gut health, among other benefits. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can achieve through our Callaghan Grant over the next few months,” said John Hart, future foods manager at Breadcraft.

“We’re interested in extracting different compounds from crickets. There is some interest in chitin, a fibre different to what’s found in fruits and vegetables. Already we’ve identified other useful products with the potential for development,” said Nelson Harper, a Chemical and Bio-process Engineering student at Massey University.

One of the challenges the world faces is figuring out how to feed a rapidly growing global population which is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. To meet that challenge, we will have to be more inventive in terms of our food sources and production. It’s great to see Breadcraft looking at the opportunities to innovate and explore less traditional food sources,” said Braden Loveridge, business advisor at Callaghan Innovation.

While research into the health benefits of crickets is in the early stages, there is long term potential for a product to be created from crickets to benefit human gut health.