PLATTSBURGH – A recipe using crickets has earned Vladamiere Perry, a senior at SUNY Plattsburgh, a spot in an international entrepreneurship competition.
The prestigious 2023 E-Fest competition in Minneapolis will bring together student groups from over 60 U.S. colleges across the United States, to showcase their innovative business ideas to a panel of judges.
Out of 100 student groups, only 25 were selected for this year’s event.
Perry, a dual business major, believes that crickets could be the future of protein-based foods.
“We know that humans need proteins to survive, and we believe crickets are the future protein for this,” he said.
Despite the expanding market for insect-based foods in the U.S., he acknowledges the skepticism surrounding crickets.
“We recognize many Americans don’t view crickets as a safe food option. But eight of 10 people worldwide have a versatile insect diet,” he said. “We know we’ll be able to incorporate [crickets] into American diets. Even if it’s one cricket at a time.”
Perry’s snack food company, Mitey Bites, aims to introduce cricket powder into their products. He sees current food sources in the U.S. as problematic, particularly due to their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and inefficient use of land.
“Animal agriculture worldwide contributes massively to greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “It takes up massive space on our planet. And it is an inhuman and inefficient source of protein.”
Having had the opportunity to test his cricket products at a UVM program, utilizing their labs as a kitchen to create a cricket cornchip, Perry is eager to showcase his venture on the national stage.
Expressing his aspirations, he says, “It would show that all the hard work that my partner and I put into this idea has been moving towards something productive and we could create an initial batch. Have people taste the chips and a huge step to have a product for the market.”
However, regardless of the outcome, Perry considers the opportunity to compete in Minneapolis a victory in itself. “This is still an amazing opportunity to go and meet likeminded entrepreneurs, have a weekend of great activities, and build our professional nature,” he said.
The E-Fest competition is dedicated to Richard Schulze, the founder of Best Buy. Schulze, who started the company in 1966 under the name Sound of Music, unrelated to the famous movie, will also serve as one of the competition judges.
Perry’s ambitions extend beyond the competition.
“I’ve always had a passion for food and business, and that’s what started this company idea,” he said. “In the future, I’d love to create new foods and better the world in some way.”