What you did not know about grasshoppers, nutrition, and Inclusive Business

Lys Mehou-loko
By on June 3, 2016

“Eat insects, save the planet”? In the southern hemisphere, billions of people eat insects as part of their routine diet. This practice is gaining more attention in the western world, with a number of benefits which include high nutritional value and a lower environmental impact. We had a discussion with Dror Tamir, the entrepreneur behind Steak TzarTzar, a growing startup specialized in edible grasshoppers.

Dror TamirPlease explain what you do in a few words

“Steak TzarTzar develop alternative protein ingredient from edible grasshoppers”

What drove you to the business of grasshoppers? 

“With the expected 70% increase in demand for protein over the coming decades and with existing protein sources taking a big toll on the environment, there is a need for alternatives. We at Steak TzarTzar believe that grasshoppers are that alternative as they provide a superior nutrient content compared to other insects or animal source protein, they are more sustainable as they limit the impact on the environment by 20 when considering methane emissions, water consumption, arable land usage and feed conversion efficiency and with our innovative protocols and technologies they are 30% lower in costs compare to cricket farming.”

Who is most interested in doing business with you and why?

“We see two completely different customers/partners: The first, unsurprisingly, African governments and organization identifying the potential of transforming insects from a wild-collected food into a new industry and supplying much needed and sometimes lacking protein to African populations. The second, surprisingly, North American food manufacturers and protein processors/distributors as the find grasshoppers as an innovative protein ingredient alternative.”

What is the inclusive business problem Steak TzarTzar is trying to solve? 

“We actually combine two major problems in one solution: The first is the lack of protein in over 1 billion people in Africa and Asia (over 150 million of them are children and protein is essential to their physical and mental development). The second is the negative impact of existing protein sources on the environment as animal source protein industry contribute over 18% of global greenhouse gasses emissions (more than the entire transportation industry!!). Grasshoppers farming will provide the essential protein while reducing methane emissions by over 99%!”

Describe the most exciting part of your day

“As an entrepreneur, every day is exciting and surprising. On one hand you have to be creative in developing a new solution/product from the solution itself through the development phase and all the way to reaching the customers. On the other hand – you have to overcome challenges. And there are many of them. For me personally, the most exciting event was the first tasting event of our grasshoppers when we brought African and Asian representatives to Israel, learned different grasshopper recipes from them, cooked them together and learned how they eat them. It was also the first time I experienced eating grasshoppers and I loved it!”

What was the tipping point for your business? What would you do differently looking back?

“Funding is always a challenge for entrepreneurs. We started our fundraising process focusing on grants from Israel’s Chief Scientist and spent almost an entire year doing so. Looking back, I would have shifted all the energy and resources to the development of the product reaching milestones and only later raising funds from private investors.”

Find out more about Steak TzarTzar on their IBA profile