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Bread and confectionery made using dried crickets are in high demand in Japan due to their novelty and also because consumers are becoming increasingly interested in insect-based foods, which have a smaller environmental footprint compared, for example, with beef and other livestock products and therefore are considered to be sustainable foods.

Foods using insects are also drawing attention worldwide as key sources of protein in the future.

Pasco Shikishima Corp. released last December two Korogi Cafe series sweets products using dried cricket powder, which sold out in two days. Kōrogi means cricket in Japanese. The bread company based in Nagoya launched another product, a baumkuchen cake using powder made from 100 crickets, online in June this year. The cake sold out in about an hour and a half.

“We were surprised to see the cricket-based items attract so much interest,” a Pasco Shikishima official in charge of product development said.

This summer, the company released a ¥2,376 kit for making cricket-based bread at home. It includes powder made from 600 crickets, flour and yeast. The ingredients are mixed together, left to sit overnight and then baked in the oven to make 16 pieces of round French bread.

Pasco Shikishima is rushing to increase production as the kit has briefly sold out.

Nine-year-old elementary school student Kimiko Tsuda from the city of Kumamoto bought the kit for a school research project during summer vacation. She became interested in cricket-based food after learning about the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, at school.

Although she was initially worried about eating cricket-based foods, the girl said that the bread “tasted well together with ajillo.”

Ryohin Keikaku Co. , which runs Muji-brand lifestyle goods stores, released senbei crackers using crickets in May 2020, with each pack containing 55 grams and priced at ¥190. Twenty to 30 crickets are used per pack, according to the company. The snacks taste similar to prawn crackers.

The company initially launched the crackers exclusively online, but they are now on sale at stores as well.

It can only procure the product around once a month because the cricket powder cannot be mass-produced. Cartfuls of the crackers often sell out in about a week, a Ryohin Keikaku public relations official said.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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