Optimized Cricket Farm

January-March 2019

Industrial Ecology

Background

The problem we faced is that meat production has a large environmental footprint. LCAs performed have shown that raising beef has an emission intensity of 67.8 kg CO2 equivalent per kg of beef. However, cricket farming has several environmental advantages over raising beef. The cricket growth process not only uses about 2000 times less water than it takes to raise beef, but it also emits 80 times less methane. Furthermore, crickets have a 25% higher protein percentage and have a 4.5 times better feed conversion ratio (FCR). 

We know that cricket farming is more sustainable than raising beef, but we also wanted to look at how we can optimize cricket farming to be more sustainable than traditional cricket farming methods in order to minimize the practice’s environmental impacts.

How might we make cricket farming itself more sustainable?

Whole system map of cricket farming

Solution

Our final concept design for an optimized cricket farm features a combination of solutions. From using better materials, such as kenaf fiber and bamboo, to strategies for more efficient energy consumption, such as using solar power and reducing heat lamp usage, we were able to come up with a cricket farm model that is significantly more sustainable than the current cricket farming methods.

We identified potential users of our cricket meat to be adventurers, athletes, and environmentally-concerned citizens, and we would market our cricket protein as "a lean, high protein, on-the-go option for the adventurer and athlete in everyone."

"A lean, high protein, on-the-go option for the adventurer and athlete in everyone."

Sketch of optimized farming set-up

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Comparing LCA of optimized farm with reference LCA

Design Process

Before brainstorming solutions, my team and I researched current cricket farming practices and created a whole system map that detailed key inputs and outputs. Using this map, we performed life cycle analysis for a rudimentary functional cricket farm to use as a baseline for comparison. We then came up with numerous alternatives for each part of the system to potentially be used in our optimized cricket farm.

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Other Promising Ideas

Our product service brainstorm session garnered some interesting solutions, for which LCAs were out of scope. We gave honorable mentions to the ideas below.

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Cricket Farming Start-Up Kit

We would sell the materials needed to farm crickets (shelving, containment, bedding, nesting, food) in addition to videos on how to get a cricket farm started (DIY). This allows users to individually start farming crickets in the spirit of “teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime” idiom. 

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Cricket Consulting

Cricket Blue Apron

We would switch to being a consultant for cricket farming that focuses on operational efficiencies and reduced environmental impact to plants. This can help solve customer problems without the need to hire full-time employees to drive change. 

We would offer prepared cricket meals every week on a monthly subscription model. This product with a product-related service is more convenient, intends to overcome stigma of consuming crickets, and takes away the need to create or find a recipe that is tasty.

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Crick-Fil-A

Moving down the cricket food supply chain, we would become purchasers of processed cricket meat and sell cricket burgers, cricket nuggets, fries, etc. as a restaurant. Piggy-backing off of the successes of Chick-Fil-A in promoting chicken over beef consumption, we hoped that Crick-Fil-A would have positive brand associations and motivation to shift consumption habits.