Masterton’s Breadcraft launched four flavoured wraps on Monday, including Cricket Flour and Hemp Seed. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Breadcraft put hemp seeds and crickets in supermarkets
More than two billion people eat crickets

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Crickets made it on to supermarket shelves on Monday and into the food mainstream when Masterton’s Breadcraft launched wraps made from cricket flour, hemp seeds, purple corn and spinach under a new brand Rebel Bakehouse.

The company, founded in 1942, has been working on the cutting-edge products for more than a year and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was shown what was going on in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Solway factory last August when she launched a new manufacturing line.

Chris Petersen from Rebel Bakehouse said he’s never seen so much excitement about a new product.

“All the supermarkets are really getting behind it and are really excited about it,” he said.

He said the company could have launched the products at the specialty end of the market but “we’re aiming to be big”.

The company unveiled the wraps at a function in Wellington attended by Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson and ministers, and Petersen said the wraps align with the strategy of Wairarapa selling itself as a food region.

The powdered crickets are sourced from Canada but the company is working with a potential local manufacturer. The hemp seeds will soon be sourced from Wairarapa.

Breadcraft spokesman Chris Petersen said the wraps align with the strategy of Wairarapa selling itself as a food region.

Peterson said the company didn’t deliberately set out to turn yucky insects into yummy things.

“Basically we’re trying to make the best healthy wraps we can,” he said. “It just so happens that the ingredients, while they aren’t the traditional New Zealand safe ingredients, are amazing.

“We’re not trying to gross people out, it is simply trying to make healthy products.”

Breadcraft is a major employer and John Cockburn, a third-generation member of the founding family, worked with Petersen on these products.

“We are a small bakery in Wairarapa and for us to compete with the big boys we need to be ahead of them and be doing new and exciting things,” Petersen said.

At the moment a couple of new jobs had been created because of the new products and more were possible.

Peterson says the hemp wraps taste “a little bit bitter, but it is very pleasant, a bit like rocket”.

“The cricket ones taste a bit nutty. I say roasted hazel nuts, a few other people say walnut, but it is not a strong taste.”

Crickets have been touted globally as a big new food thing because they don’t require irrigation, don’t have carbon emissions, use less land and have more protein for weight than cows.

The wraps are being sold at a premium price but there are eight in a pack, rather than six, so per wrap they are about the same as other mainstream products, Petersen says.

There is a spinach wrap in the range but it has more spinach than competing brands. Spinach is an amazing food and always a top seller as a wrap, he said.

They developed the new product range in response to growing consumer demand for healthier and more sustainable food products.

“The world’s population is forecast to grow to more than 9.7 billion by 2050,” says Petersen.

“Sustainably-sourced, environmentally-friendly proteins are the future of food if we are to meet the challenge of feeding all of these people.

“We’re excited to introduce crickets and hemp to Kiwis – already, more than two billion people around the world eat crickets and hemp is one of the few sources of complete protein for plant-based eaters.”

Ministers at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide in 2017 approved a standard to allow safe levels of low-THC hemp seed as a food and changes to various regulations happened after that.

When announcing the move then Food Safety Minister David Bennett said low THC-hemp seed was nutritious, safe to eat and would be a new industry for New Zealand, already having a global market worth $1 billion.

The seeds do not require either fertiliser or irrigation and were predicted to be able to produce farm gate revenue from $4000 to $5000 per hectare.

“The growth of the seeds will also lead to job creation in New Zealand from processing the seed crop into oil, flour, protein and hulled hemp seeds,” Bennett said.