Crickets and other bugs are starting to pop up on ingredient listings in the packaged food aisle and are packed with protein.

We included Insects as Protein as a trend to watch in our 2012 food trends report, and today crickets and other bugs are starting to pop up on ingredient listings in the packaged food aisle. While it may seem unlikely that mainstream shoppers will be open to such snacks—at least in Western regions—these insects are packed with as much protein as soy, and consumers have been clamoring for protein (notes Food Business News, “Protein-rich foods have come to the center of product development, menu and merchandising discussions in the food industry”). Another selling point is the environmental benefit, since insects require far fewer natural resources to raise than livestock and poultry and produce little waste.

Several companies are making protein bars from cricket flour. Chapul bars, which come in three flavors, are available in 200 U.S. retail locations. Earlier this year the company was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. Exo bars are produced by a Brooklyn-based startup that has raised $1.2 million in funding, and Bitty Foods uses cricket flour to make cookies. On a savory note, Six Foods is a startup producing Chirp Chips—tortilla chips made with cricket flour—that are due out later this year. BugMuscle plans to produce a protein powder for the weightlifting set. Finally, U.K.-based Grub simply sells freeze-dried crickets, grasshoppers and worms in their whole form.

While getting a critical mass of people to overcome the “ick” factor will be a challenge, the reasons to eat insects are compelling, as The Economist outlines in a recent video. With Millennials particularly adventurous when it comes to food and the protein trend still on the upswing, these products have a decent chance of gaining traction.

Image credit: Solutions Consulting