Would you eat a burger made of mealworms? Coop, the second-largest supermarket chain in Switzerland, will start selling food made with insects. The country will be the first in Europe to allow sales of insect-based food, thanks to laws changed in May. Coop will sell insect burgers and balls from Switzerland-based startup Essento.
Switzerland’s food safety laws allow sales of food made from mealworms, crickets, or grasshoppers. Coop will be selling Essento Insect Burgers and Essento Insect Balls, both made with mealworms. The burgers also contain rice, vegetables like leeks and celery, and spices like chili and oregano. The balls – which could be eaten inside pita bread, for example – are filled out with chickpeas, garlic, onions, parsley, and coriander.
Coop Head of Category Management Silvio Baselgia said they’re Switzerland’s first retailer to sell Essento’s insect products, which the company has been developing for more than two years. Essento co-founder Christian Bärtsch said in a statement, “As food, insects are convincing in many respects: they have a high culinary potential, their production saves resources, and their nutritional profile is high quality. Thus insects are the perfect complement to a modern diet.”
According to Essento’s website, mealworms don’t produce as many greenhouse gases as animal food sources like pigs or cows. 80 percent of insects are edible, as compared with 40 percent of cows, and raising insects requires less food and water. Insects are a good source of protein and also contain unsaturated fatty acids, the vitamins A, B, and B12, and minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, and iron.
Essento’s products will be on sale on August 21 in seven Coop stores to start, including branches in Zurich and Geneva.