SUMMARY: Ento is introducing insects to the Western diet. As agricultural productivity cannot keep up with global food demands, edible insects potentially have positive environmental benefits globally as well as on human health.

PROBLEM SPACE: Global food demand is accelerating and agricultural productivity cannot keep up. By 2050 food demand is set to double. Much of this increase in demand will be for meat, which has a huge environmental impact. The livestock industry accounts for 70% of agricultural land use, and 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. If we are to achieve global food security, it is critical that we diversify our food systems with more ecologically responsible options.

Edible insects offer this alternative. They are much more space and energy efficient than traditional livestock, and produce far less greenhouse gas. They are also highly efficient at turning feed into protein. Compared to beef, grasshoppers create 9 times more meat for the same amount of food.

In the West, the ‘meat-sweet’ diet, has also created an obesity epidemic. A 200gram serving of minced beef is 50% fat by weight. Insects in contrast are an excellent, low-fat source of protein, and are rich in vitamins and minerals.

However, although insects are enjoyed by billions of people around the world, they are taboo in the Western diet. This is the challenge that Ento aims to tackle, by introducing delicious foods, great products, and exciting eating experiences.

SOLUTION: Ento is a food brand based in London. Our vision is for edible insect foods to become an enjoyable everyday reality in the West. We intend to achieve this through a series of delicious products and eating experiences that will gently challenge the social taboo.

The founding team was inspired by research from Wageningen University which showed the amazing potential of insects as a new source of food. However, our team noticed that no one had yet tackled the challenge of how insects might become accepted. As Design Masters Students at the Royal College of Art, we decided to use design thinking and user research to develop a system for introducing edible insects.

Our team studied other food introductions (like Sushi), researched food cultures, and performed food experiments with users. We used our findings to develop our brand ‘Ento’. Ento challenges people’s negative preconceptions of eating insects and repositions them as a fun, modern, and healthy food source. We also created a range of delicious insect dishes and developed a strategic roadmap for their introduction.

Since graduating our team has been working to make Ento a reality, by turning our strategic roadmap into an actionable business plan. Our plan for Ento as a company is to focus on the consumer acceptance challenge through food service and food products. We also intend to work closely with farms to grow the supply of responsibly grown edible insects in the UK.

We are working with chefs and food designers to refine our recipes, and have begun catering small events to test our products. We believe the next 3 years are critical for our brand and the introduction of insects as a new food. We want Ento to challenge the social taboo and to get people thinking differently about insects as a new ingredient. And although insects in the supermarket might seem like a far off possibility, we believe it may be closer than you think.

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