[CHALLENGE] Heilu: Marketing sustainable protein from insects for human consumption

The challenge: Getting people to eat nutritional products made by upcycling food processing runoff using insects.

It comes down to a simple equation. On the left side is people’s unease with eating insects. On the right side is people’s desire to make a difference, help the environment, and be perceived as challengers of the status quo.

To tip the balance in our favour, we need to make the left side smaller and right side bigger.

Unease with eating insects < Desire to make a difference

We need help with marketing - Helping people overcome the barrier of eating insects and see the nutritional and environmental benefits of insects as a sustainable food source


The insects used are black soldier fly larvae and are processed at the the stage before they turn into a fly. The larvae are in a dormant state when they are at that stage of development and that is when they are heated and pressurized in order to dry out. Once the heating and pressure process is complete they can then be formed into a powder or an oil.

* Nutrional Benefits
The end product, either powder or oil, has more protein than beef, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and extremely high in fibre and prebiotic.
The Heilu oil product is very similar to the fatty acid structure of that in coconut oil. At this point the oil is further being developed to alter a desired taste and consistency.

* Sustainability
For those interested in being more sustainable this is a product to reduce your impact when seeking protein. The larvae require no additional water to grow, the insects can be produced anywhere, and they do not require a lot of space. Additionally they do not produce green house gases and can feed off of unwanted grocery store by product, such as bruised fruits or vegetables, or food about to go bad including bread and other products.


Main Question
How to reduce the “ick” factor surrounding insects?
Create a product derived from insects.

  • This has already been established and is in the form of oil and powder products

Developed Question
How to have people talk about the product?
Identify the market of people that would be interested in this product

  1. Capitalize on the “ick” factor for those that are intrigued by insects
  2. The sustainable consumer
  3. The health focused consumer
  4. Those that already eat insects

How to encourage people to try the product?

  1. Test the marketability of the product on the different markets addressed. IE market the “ick” factor versus marketing the nutritional value factor
  2. Host a focus group to try the product and get feedback

How to Market the product once it has been approved and the target market is chosen

  • Have local stores sell the product
  • Advertise to the adventure stores as a hiking product, light weight and nutritional
  • Have bloggers promote the product
  • Get celebrity endorsement - Athletes
  • Cooking competition using the products
  • Cookbook for ideas of what to cook with the product
  • Brand value to be used in additional products, such as protein powder shakes, granola bars, salad dressing ect.
  • Donate food product based on food product sold

This challenge started as: Aiming to determine how to overcome the unease with eating insects in order to make a difference

This challenge ended as: Determining the type of consumer market for this type of product for. The consumer market are people that value health, sustainability, those who eat insects, and those who would try the product because it is different.

Describe the evolution of your group’s thought process, what you did during the day: Initially our group’s focus was to try ways to market this product as being a health and/or sustainable product by not highlighting it is derived from insects. It evolved to us wanting to capitalize on the fact that the product is derived from insects to grab attention and stand out from all the other health superfoods that are out there.

Key things you learned: That having a product that is not directly an insect, such as cricket in full form, but a secondary product is more appealing to people. That the product is already in a form that makes the unease with eating insects less.

The feedback you received, and how it was applied: Some feedback includes: Trying to use insects as the market focus, the types of consumers that this product would appeal to, getting more general population feedback. This feedback gave us the ideas on the direction that Heilu would like to move with this product to overcome the problem faced.

The practical outcome of this challenge is: Primarily start by doing beta testing of how to promote the product to determine what appeals more to people. Secondly to find ways to reach out to people to want to use this product, such as: Doing a cooking competition; Making a cookbook; Making secondary products like protein bars or protein shakes; Reaching out to local bloggers to try and get feedback.

The Future: What elements did you decide to: pursue, pivot, purge, pause?

Do the beta testing, and promote the product using the methods described above. This is able to be accomplished by obtaining the resources to pursue these methods.

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!!

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