Grubs Up | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2020
Working with insects after obtaining an agribusiness degree inspired Grubs Up founder Paula Pownall. Originally envisaged as a nutrition source for animal feed in the pig and poultry industries, the high protein value in crickets made them a viable human food, with enquiries coming in just a few months after establishing the business in 2016.
At that stage the WA Department of Health was more interested in keeping insects out of the food system than in. Paula worked with government to develop a suitable food policy, with insect products approved as human food in 2017. There was no looking back once the media took notice, with GrubsUp seeing demand almost immediately.
Paula originally envisaged cricket protein powder for the gym and wellness industries as the keystone product. She discovered that the fitness industry price point is high and that consumers preferred products with additives like amino acids that provide an all-in-one solution, even if they are based on synthetics. She launched cricket protein powder as the primary product in 2017 but soon discovered an entirely different side to the market.
Insect protein was being touted as a likely food source for long-term space travel and future colonisation on other planets, so crickets were in the news. Demand started to rise for plain or fresh insects, so Paula and husband Rohan quickly pivoted to release a range of whole roasted products. They explored other alternatives that would remove the ‘ick’ factor, settling on Cricket Hazelnut Dukkha — one of the company’s best sellers.
The GrubsUp philosophy is to keep it simple and don’t mix the message. Offering only whole roasted crickets and mealworms, the powder, dukkah and popular spice grinder mixes keep the focus on the nutritional value of the product. A variety of energy bars enable on-the-go eating and round out the GrubsUp offering.
Taking part in the Agristart Harvest Accelerator provided valuable networking opportunities and the uniqueness of the product has virtually guaranteed ongoing interest in a viable, sustainable protein source.