Yum Bug tacos

Source: Yum Bug

Bao buns filled with a recipe made using Yum Bug’s locally sourced crickets

Yum Bug has raised more than £300k from the crowd and Brewdog boss James Watt to take its insect ingredients brand into the mainstream.

The business secured £200k from Watt – as part of his Next Unicorn competition to find the “next billion-dollar brand” – and topped up with another £101k from more than 320 investors on Crowdcube, with the round valuing the startup at £5m.

Yum is gearing up to launch its products in UK restaurant chains after a trial run in London independent outlets, piloting burgers, tacos and tapas made using insects.

The brand is in discussions with BrewDog, Wahaca and other chains, as well as recipe kit business Mindful Chef, ahead of the next stage of planned expansion into retail.

“We’re on a die-hard mission to take bugs mainstream,” said CEO Leo Taylor, who co-founded the business with Aaron Thomas.

“We’re about to partner with some massive restaurant chains in the UK, meaning we really need to upscale our manufacturing as soon as possible. James’ investment couldn’t have come at a better time for us.

“More and more we’re finding that people have heard about the health benefits and sustainability stats of eating insects, as well as the drastic problems in our current food system.

“A recent report found that over a quarter of the UK’s population are open to eating grub.

“This investment is a real game-changer for Yum Bug and we can’t wait to see our food rolled out in restaurants across the UK.”

Yum Bug is one of five businesses backed by Watt as part of Next Unicorn, with Tallow & Ash, which makes environmentally friendly laundry shampoos and conditioners, securing £250k, and Uncouth, which offers personalised and prescribed skincare treatments, winning £150k.

Watt added: “Once you get over the fact that you’re eating bugs, it’s surprisingly delicious.

“The food scene is going to change dramatically, and I think Yum Bug can shake it up and produce more sustainable ways to get the protein that we all need.”