Upmarket bug snacks to creep into Thai store shelves

Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:10am EST
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By Kaweewit Kaewjinda

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Street vendors selling deep-fried insects as snacks are a familiar sight in Bangkok, but a Thai entrepreneur is trying to give edible bugs a more upmarket appeal.

Panitan Tongsiri will launch his "HiSo", short for high-society, brand of seasoned insect snacks in March and plans to stock them at gourmet food markets around the Thai capital.

Crunchy crickets and worms would be a delicacy available in plain salt, cheese, seaweed and barbecue flavors at 25 baht (less than $1) per pack, said the 29-year-old businessman.

"I want to elevate its level from what is considered street food into something safe and modern," Panitan told Reuters.

Though many in the West shy away from fried worms and cicadas, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has said eating insects has health benefits and they could be a food source for the world's growing population.

"Insects are a highly nutritious and healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber and mineral content," the FAO said in a 2013 report.

Bettina Lasbeck, 52, was one of the first to try the HiSo insect snacks at a tasting session in Bangkok.

"It tastes better than I thought," she said.   Continued...

Packets of "HiSo"snacks are offered to foreign tourists during a promotion event in central Bangkok February 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom