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Retail price of insect

Just astonished at the price of insect to buy. I think the only real option is the idea too farm them yourself.

Comments

  • I'd love to hear what sort of prices community members are seeing. Do you mind posting? You can leave the vendor's name out if you'd rather not say!
  • Even as pet food dried Mealworms are at least $1 US per once. One thousand Mealworms as pet food live are $7 US and up. Better deals when you ship, but then you have to pay shipping. At a reptile expo and purchased 1k for $8.
  • Here's some food for thought regarding the current economics of the insect farming industry as it stands in the US:

    Right now there are a number of fairly large scale insect farms (capable of producing in the tons) operating in the US, including Rainbow Mealworms, Fluker Farms, Ganz Cricket Ranch, Top Hat, Armstrong and several others. Their primary markets are selling live insects as pet food and fish bait at extremely high margins. When buying direct from farms, cricket prices hang around $15 /1000 plus the exorbitant rates for fast shipping to make sure your stock show up alive. At pet shops I've seen crickets sold $0.10 ea, or $100 / 1000. (note that full grown crickets are about 1000 to 1lb)

    For the last several decades these farms have cornered the niche feeder/bait markets, selling their insects at prices supported by the level of demand from those buyers. Although they might grumble about paying $0.10 for a cricket, your average pet owner isn't going broke from feeding their gecko a few crickets each week so the market supports the price. All this time the existing farms have been making a pretty solid profit on their operations. The biggest farms can gross around $10+ million/year, and most of them are not even running at full capacity because their demand is seasonal. Also, with the long standing status quo, there hasn't been much incentive for these business to really look into maximizing efficiency and incorporating automation. There's quite a lot of manual labor require to keep these large farms running, and this has been enabled by the comfortable margins provided by serving the niche feeder/bait markets.

    Now we have a new phenomenon in the West, with the focus on using insects for human food. At first glance it would seem that this is a great boon to the existing insect farms because a potentially huge new market is preparing to open up. The problem is that people want to buy insects at prices competitive with other meat sources like pork and chicken or even whey and soy. In many ways this is a terrible proposition for the farmers. Selling their insects to humans will require stricter accountability on the rearing to ensure food safety, more paperwork, and less money for their produce. Their profit margins will sink, and offering food grade insects at a lower price will instantly undercut and cannibalize their current cash cow business models. It will take quite a huge volume of the lower margin sales to make up the net profits of the lost high margin sales.

    So obviously it's not in the big farms' interests to start selling cheap food grade insects to us all, yet. There are some things that can force a shift

    - The demand for the food grade insects grows to a critical volume that the farmers can switch their business models without loss of profits

    - New entrants build large scale operations and intentionally undercut the current market prices to sell for human consumption, forcing the incumbent farmers to drop their own prices to remain competitive

    - Enough small scale operations get started to effectively undercut the existing market, and this could include pet stores taking control of their own supply chains by raising their own insects instead of buying from the big farms (although really the big chains like Pet Smart, Petco, Cabela's, etc. make up most of the demand for the big farms' insects).

    Something that's interesting to consider is that newcomers and small scale producers only need to undercut the current pet food market prices by a bit in order to force the larger players to use their own economies of scale to further drop the price in a bid to outcompete.
  • Thanks @andrew, in Australia I bought a tub of crickets for $5. Interesting that none of the brands there felt the need to state how many were in the tub! (that's just WRONG!) I believe there were 40-50, but just try to count the little beggers once they're in a box (and after your poodle up-ends it =(( )
  • I bought 100g (3.52oz) of mealworms for 6€ at a pet shop in Portugal. I can look it up for the cricket prices, they only sell those two insects. The name of the company is Ornimundo, just in case...
  • It would be interesting to put the prices of insects around the world on a table, it maybe helpful for people interested in buying and selling bugs. Also, we could create some sort of web market to trade bugs within users from the forum. For instance, if I farm grasshopper, I could trade for some crickets with other farmer. Other important aspect to consider is the genetic diversity. It is healthier to farm a genetic diverse herd. If we start our farm with a very small number of individuals the genetic diversity may reduce through the generations. Therefore the trade of individuals of the same species from different farms may be also good for both farmers.

    Of course we should take into account the mailing expenses, but it might be a good idea. Anyways, it is just a suggestion...
  • Great idea, I'll add a price page to the wiki!
  • OK, I created a set of price tables here: https://github.com/TinyFarms/OpenBugFarm/wiki/Insect-Price-Data

    Feel free to update with prices you know - once we have a bit more information we can adjust the table format to suit it (I wasn't sure if we should just record price per 1000, etc).

    We should probably break this out by country & region, eventually, but we can do all that once we have more data.
  • The wiki is starting to become pretty awesome!
  • Yeah, I'm really excited - especially if we can pull together pricing information from around the world, we can help people figure out whether they can start a business around growing bugs!
  • I think we could add a column with the city and country. What do you think @dansitu?
    Regarding the standard unity, I think that it will be difficult to use, given that in some places insects are sold by unity, while in others, by weight. I suggest to first allow people to post the price they pay for a certain amount of individuals or by weight. Afterwards, we could use the average weight of a given species to standardize the table. For instance, one meal worm weights ca. 0.1 gram, so in 100 g, we have approximately 1000 worms. The same process could be used for other species.
  • I've added new columns to the wiki with the city and country. I also put the link of the store where I bought meal worms. It would be nice to add a link to the store whenever possible.
  • Perfect, great work! It's pretty useless without city and country...
  • A pet store in Perth, Western Australia on 7th July 2014, had mealworms (selling for pet food) at: AUD 4.50 for 20g AUD 7.40 for 50g AUD 12.50 for 100g AUD 21.00 for 200g.

    They also have boxes of crickets (all AUD 7.95): 120 "tiny" (~0.5cm) 75 "small" (~1cm) 50 "medium" (~1.5cm?) 30 "large" (~2cm) *sizes estimated by salesperson over the phone - I'd take them as a rough guide.

  • @calytrix that's incredibly expensive, but a good indicator of the short term potential for folks starting up rearing crickets to make a little back selling their bugs as feeders

  • Yes, @andrew, mealworms at AUD105/kilo and up!!! (Goodness only knows how much the cricket price per kilo would work out to... didn't look like many in the boxes!)

    ...and yes, again, I'm beginning to think it might be a very good home business prospect!

  • If you want to compare retail prices of food-grade commercially marketed insects, I've constructed a growing listing and review: http://bugvivant.com/where-to-buy-edible-insects/

    Whole insects reviews will be added within the next few months. If you've tried any of these products please let us know what you thought. All products listed here can and need to be reviewed to help grow this movement and community.

  • I am very late to the conversation and long time bug farmer, but brand new to Open Bug Farm forum and the idea of edible bugs. I wanted to add, as a new edible bug consumer, I actually expect to pay more than the prices for pet feeder insects. This is because I want the quality to be MUCH higher than pet feeder insects. Also, someone above mentioned that consumers will want to compare prices to beef, pork and chicken. Again, as a new consumer, it seems more like comparing oranges to walnuts. I really don't even compare standard meats when considering the price 1) because it is sooooooo different and 2) because it requires such different quantities or ways to use it. So, from a completely amateur opinion, I really think edible insects should be more expensive than animal feed insects and I already am happily paying $40-50 lb for cricket flour.

  • edited March 2016

    prices in Taiwan for reference. from pet shops.

    crickets $1nt each about $0.03 USD Acheta and Gryllus species, usually same price mealworms/super mealworms $25nt/liang (37.5 grams) = $667nt/kg about $21/kg USD

    feeder frogs, shrimp, eel and fish are also common but not sure on price.

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