The starting point of presenting insect food products to consumers is completely unique – there is no other ingredient in history that has had the hype around it for years before entering the markets. In the 1970’s and 1980’s overgrowing shrimp industry in Asia gained foothold in Western markets through the large Chinese community in big cities in the United States, where the shrimp’s process from early adopters’ delicacy to every household’s dinner tables took decades. Food is a highly personal subject for everyone and diet is a big part of one’s identity – your plate tells a lot about your roots, your values, and your socio-economic status.
Fazer is one of the most Finnish brands one can think of – one of the reasons it is extremely important to have a brand of national value behind when presenting an ingredient like insects to markets. For the past years all the fuzz about insect food has been caused by our loud start-up community – which has done fantastic job in raising awareness, but to break through to the masses consumers need a familiar voice to educate themselves. Having your beloved Fazer logo on insect products is like dipping your toes in cold water – whilst having your other leg safely in the boat.
As a consumer market, Finland is highly unique. According to the study by the Institute of Natural Resources (LUKE) over 70% of Finnish consumers are willing to try insect products – the difference is huge compared to Sweden (40%) and Middle-European Countries (20%-30%). This can be explained by Finland’s fairly young cuisine. Only two generations ago, during and after cold war, people were living in scarcity, eating anything that had energy. Their children were presented to a culture of economic growth and new possibilities. After that, the millennials, our target group, grew up in abundance and endless possibilities – the era where new trends are also highly affected by food and diets. It is the first time in Finland when you can actually make a political statement based on your diet, instead of eating in order to stay alive.
Main points when creating our product line:
- the target group is early adopters, with a lot of interest in trying new, exciting products and a low threshold in unknown ingredients.
- Finnish people love their bread. Finnish bread. With rye and just the right amount of softness. In 2010, when the biggest low-carb fad hit the markets our bread consumption hit the all-time low, but since has been recovering steadily. The reason we do not add insects to traditional, soft bread is because a.) it is considered as traditional food with no unknown things needed and b.) The only reason you would add insect flour to traditional bread is to increase its nutritional value. Studies show an average consumer sees healthy diet and new, exotic food as different and, for the time being we want to keep the separation there. In addition, the big protein fad that peaked in 2012-2015 has already started to decline and currently people are considering more about the environmental aspects of their decisions.
Our Product Line
Sirkkari, a wordplay from a Finnish word sirkka (cricket) and näkkäri (crispbread), is a product line that focuses on easily approachable snack products. When 70% of our consumers are happily willing to try insect food, there is no logical reason to try to hide it in our traditional food – it can be a new, exciting, shareable thing you can bring to your math class or slumber party and always have a positive fuzz around it. Instead of trying to change the people’s diet, the brand focuses on educating people on the insect food. The graphics are nature-oriented, focusing on the environmental benefits of insect food, as well as on bringing people to the setting they associate crickets in – a sunny summer afternoon, with singing crickets all over the hayfield. The underlying effect of the association is to change the deepest idea of a cricket people have in their minds: yes, that is a bug that is making the noise in the hayfield and yes, I am eating it right now, it is actually an edible thing and it tastes fantastic!
In 2015 in Helsinki Night Market a group of brave foodies stood against the food laws and served crickets for consumers – with a massive success. Throughout the whole weekend the cricket stand had a line of over a hundred people, people from every age group and socio-economic background. The interest towards edible insects is pushed by the curiosity of our inner child – wonder if I could add insects to my diet as well? That is the deepest ideology of Sirkkari. Instead of trying to hide insect flour into basic products and try to force consumers to add bugs into their diets, our aim is to embrace the playfulness of trying new exotic food in an easy manner, while educating people into the great and sustainable world of entomophagy.
As a product-line with an environmental aspect, our products will be packaged in sustainably produced carton by Stora Enso –packaging. The shape is a traditional oyster pail, copied from the famous Chinese food takeaway containers or frozen Thai cube –meals, a symbol for exotic, new food product that every millennial remembers craving when watching Hollywood movies.
As we focus on educating and raising awareness, every package will have a fun fact about insect food on the side, accompanied by an easily approachable cricket-figure. The benefits of insect production are mind-blowing and very effective way of raising awe in consumers. The fun fact is accompanied by a Finnish phrase “Kappas!” (“oh, what do you know!”) which will stay in your head for days. In addition, we want to associate that fairly commonly used phrase with Sirkkari–products.
( “Kappas!” in its deepest sense means finding something new and unexpected. In our product family it represents the idea of taking the familiar element cricket, which has been around forever, and present it as food, which no-one has thought before. Kappas!)
Sirkkari consists of four different products: two ready-to-go snacks and two easiest ways to add insects to your dinner table.
Rye Nachos Nachos (and other possible chips) come in three different flavors and has 12% cricket flour – approximately one cricket per chip. These are the products with lowest threshold to trying insect food – tastes like normal rye chips, except they have crickets in them. We use rye as a base flour to add the Finnishness in it and to have the healthier snack –association behind the product.
Seed crackers Seed crackers has changed the lives of our target group in a couple of years. Easy to bake by yourself, these delicious, nutrition-packed snacks can be flavored in million different ways and is a fantastic product to add coarser cricket crumble.
Croutons & bread sticks Croutons and bread sticks as a side to a salad or a soup is popular in our target group. These products focus on the idea of not changing the whole source of nutrients to insects straight away, but to have the easiest and entertaining ways to have cricket in your food table. Added rye croutons with a dash of crumbled crickets on your pumpkin soup is definitely a great way to present crickets to your parents – and delicious, since they do come in three different flavors. Like chips, croutons and bread sticks are rye based, since white wheat does not appeal to Finnish consumers.
Product will be launched in the early week of May, when the best picnic season is supposed to start. The products will be located in ready to go salty snacks -section, and an extra stand in the far end of the artisan beer section, since their main consumers are definitely in our target group. There will be a floor tape with a question "do you know what's green and full of protein?", and a trail that leads to our stand. Kappas!
Our target consumers are heavily located in and influenced by social media. Our social media marketing campaigns focus on increasing awareness and educating consumers, which builds up to a certain kind of a movement and ideology – “insects are definitely part of my diet”. The cricket figure is used across media and the buzzword “kappas!” is presented with all the powerful facts.
As we ride the wave of insect hype, the presence and visibility in social media can be huge. We will create a campaign in Instagram where people try chips, crackers, croutons and bread stick in different ways. #Kappas, cricket croutons in my morning porridge work like a dream!”
In order to capture our younger crowd, which, according to studies, is more willing to try new food products, we will use suitable social media influencers in our marketing campaign. For instance, a Youtube star Miisas has over 350,000 followers and is often creating food-themed content.
Like Slush and NBF, international events held in Finland are of high value and definitely something to be proud of. For event menus, croutons and breadsticks are a strong product for adding that last dash of epic experience for our international visitors. For instance, as in Messukeskus Fazer is the main producer of food, serving Fazer’s cricket croutons and breadsticks alongside the appetizer soup is a way to present our products to international consumers and possible export markets.
For outdoors advertising, we will use billboards outside bigger markets and tram stops, with powerful fun facts. The strategy is aimed to the group who is not as actively presented in social media and the current food discussion, and thus is not aware about the ongoing insect hype.
What's next for Sirkkari
Next step for Sirkkari product family would be healthy snackbars, where Fazer is not competing yet but is already researching markets.