SLU news

Crickets likely nutritious for people as well

Published: 22 November 2017

Crickets are considered tasty, and nutrient analyses show that they have a high and interesting nutritional value for humans. Insects are viewed as food in many countries, while others do not eat them at all – including Sweden.

Insects can be produced with few, and often low-value, resources, which is why the UN has highlighted them as a future food with great potential. So far, no studies have been carried out to estimate the potential of crickets as human food.
Pigs digest feed in a very similar way to how humans digest food, which means that you can presume that effects observed in pigs may be relevant to humans.
Researchers from SLU have, in a Swedish-Cambodian study, studied how young pigs grow on a diet consisting of corn flour, rice bran and either cricket flour or fish flour.

There have also been studies on what happens if you peel crickets. Should insects be approved as food, it is likely that European legislation will require that they be peeled before consumption, i.e. removing legs and wings.

The reason for this is that there are a few reports suggesting that large consumption of grasshoppers can cause constipation. This is because some parts of grasshoppers (e.g. the legs) are thought to be very difficult to digest. That is why the study on pigs included how they grew if their diet contained flour based on whole crickets or flour where the legs had been removed.

The studies showed that the pigs grew very well on diets that contained cricket flour. They digested these diets better than they did the fish flour, and they also showed signs of being able to use more of the digested protein to grow. The flour without cricket legs did not work better than the flour with legs, which is why the conclusion is that you should not remove the cricket legs – it would be "throwing away" good nourishment.

The study concludes that crickets can be used as a good feed for pigs, and are likely to be good food for humans, too.
The study was carried out by Phalla Miech, a doctoral student at SLU, and the SLU professors Anna Jansson, Åsa Berggren and Jan Erik Lindberg. The project was funded by Sida.

Contact person

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Anna Jansson
Professor at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB); Division of Anatomy and Physiology 

Telephone: 018-672106