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The Flying Food project

Organization name Flying Food Consortium
Organization type Consortium
Date of incorporation 2013
Country of operation Uganda, Kenya
Link to Netherlands Several Dutch partners involved
Size No own staff
Industry Food products
Sustainability type Social business model
Profit orientation For-profit
BoP involved as … Producers, consumers

The Flying Food initiative creates access to affordable proteins and livelihood, by setting up an inclusive value chain on crickets for human consumption in Africa. Crickets are tasty, affordable and very nutritious: they have a very high protein content and contain essential micro-nutrients. Moreover, cricket rearing is easy, and requires minimum space and effort but has high returns. Flying Food is initiated by a Dutch consortium between TNO, Wageningen Food and Biobased Research, Kreca Ltd and NGN Ltd. Since 2015, a new sustainable value network for crickets was established in Uganda and Kenya, with a sound business model. In these areas, crickets are sold as a snack, either fried or dried, and as powder for porridge, bread, and cookies. The supply chain starts with smallholder, medium-sized, and large farmers that rear crickets for own consumption and sell their yield to food processors.

Flying Food’s value proposition is threefold. First, they increase innovation and entrepreneurship by boosting farmers’ production and thereby increase their sources of income. Second, they create local access to affordable protein and micronutrients to reduce malnutrition. And third, to reduce the environmental footprint of protein production. Hereby, they seek to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 ‘No Poverty’, 2 ‘No Hunger,’ 8 ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, and 13 ‘Climate Action’.  Moreover, Flying Food pays particular attention to the involvement of women and youth in cricket farming, which in line with SDG 5 ‘Gender Equality’.

In 2018, 700 farmers were trained and 350 smallholder farmers started with cricket rearing as a side activity, earning an annual extra income of 50%. Unfortunately, in the final stage of the project period, at the end of 2018, farmers faced a disease outbreak which killed most of the crickets. This is quite usual in livestock farming, but it affected this early-stage value network immensely: while the disease was overcome, only 120 farmers restarted their cricket business. Bearing in mind the innovative nature of this initiative, the potential benefits of Flying Food appeared to be substantial, both economic, social and environmental. Interest for this new business is increasing in many continents as investments in and the establishment of insects farm is growing. With the lessons learned, the Flying Food initiative developed a new approach to rear crickets sustainably, and it is working on a collaborative business model. The ambition is to first strengthen the value network in Kenya and Uganda, and second to scale to Rwanda. You can find more information about the Flying Food project here.

 

5-Step-to-scale approach

In order to effectively scale Flying Food collaboratively, we organized a workshop using 5-step-to-scale framework with the participation of all Flying Food partners. The outcome of the workshop is presented as below.

Step 1: Ambition

In this step, Flying Food partners answered the following seven simple questions to demarcate what value they and their partners seek to create for the BoP. First, they answered the questions individually. Then they discussed each other’s answers to reach a single, shared scaling ambition. Finally, Flying Food defined the following scaling impact ambition with its partners.

Step 2: Discovery

Understand the actors, resources, activities: In this step, Flying Food and their partners visualized the collaborators in the ecosystem (commonly called actors), their interactions and relationships with other collaborators, and the value created, delivered and captured through the collaboration for the BoP. The ecosystem for Flying Food can be visualized as below.

Understand the actors’ capabilities: Flying Food partners listed out the business’s strengs, weakness, opportunities, and threat.

Strengths

▪ Innovative project on small scale with large impact
▪ Robust concept business model with CBC as central player
▪ Opportunity to organize the value chain bottom-up
▪ There is potential market demand as consumers love cricket taste
▪ Insect rearing is both efficient and environmentally friendly
▪ Consortium based on shared knowledge, transparency and clear roles
▪ Opportunity to learn about different countries
▪ A validated product method supported by trainers and manual

Weaknesses ▪ Demand is uncertain as there is no strong consumer product
▪ Lack of local champion which takes ownership of the cricket business
▪ Organizing collaboration is challenging
▪ People with the right competences are hard to find
▪ Too innovative project with new product in new market
▪ Independence of CBC is uncertain due to its central role
▪ There is a lack of donors and investors
▪ Insufficient track record as the product process is still a concept
 
Opportunities

▪ New economic activity in rural areas, e.g. by women and youth
▪ Market demand for cricket derived products
▪ Climate change and circular funding priorities
▪ Expand on cricket rearing larger scale
▪ Provide technical support to farmers, e.g. temperature management
▪ Opportunity to catch up with project’s competition
▪ Netherlands can champion learning and knowledge development in Africa
▪ Represent interests through insect specific policy

 

Threats ▪ Lack of demand due to unfamiliarity, education is needed
▪ There is little production, while competition is rising
▪ Funding opportunities are complicated
▪ Cricket rearing is challenging
▪ Crickets are susceptible to diseases
▪ Welfare of the crickets is cause for concern
▪ Influence of crickets on the environment and vice versa
▪ Usage of crickets for food is pushed out of the market by feed
▪ Regulation can inhibit production and sale of products
▪ Conflicting interests and power inequalities
▪ Crickets may cause allergies

Step 3: Strategy

In this step, Flying Food partners discovered potential scaling tactics by brainstorming ideas for each category. First, they may take a couple of minutes to think of tactics individually. Then they shared their ideas. There was no place for judgement at this stage; any idea, no matter how crazy, is listed. When everyone had shared their ideas, everyone can pick one to two most interesting ideas. This results in about three most interesting ideas for each category.

Step 4: Adaptation

In this step, Flying Food partners identified and visualized the actors, resources and activities as well as the relationships between them that are necessary to realize the most interesting scaling tactics from Step 3.

Step 5: Evaluation

In this step, Flying Food partners used a simple attractiveness feasibility matrix to evaluate the scaling tactics. They scored each of the most interesting scaling tactics from step 3 based on their attractiveness and feasibly on a scale from high to low.

 

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