Cricket consolidation: Aspire Food Group acquires Exo

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cricket consolidation: Aspire Food Group acquires Exo
Aspire Food Group, which produces the Aketta cricket food products and owns the world’s first automated cricket farm, has acquired Exo.

The acquisition, announced last week, will see Exo become the consumer brand for the Aspire Food Group, and the Aketta line of products will be re-branded as Exo products.

Mohammed Ashour, co-founder and CEO of Aspire Food Group, told us: “The main synergies derived from merging all products under the Exo brand is expanded product offerings, with markedly different occasions of use, all under a brand that consumers have come to trust in this industry over the past four years.

“In addition, this opens the door for opportunities to display products together, enhancing brand discovery and expanding our education given greater shelf real estate.”

The acquisition will also see Exo switch to using cricket protein powder manufactured by Aspire.

“The cricket protein powder produced by Aspire is best in class in terms of particle size and distribution (which impacts functionality) as well as color and taste,” ​added Ashour.

Automated facility

Crickets © Getty Images casketcase
© Getty Images / casketcase

Aspire was founded in 2012 by five MBA students from McGill University who went on to win the prestigious Hult prize (billed as the ‘planet’s largest student competition to solve the world's toughest challenges’) in 2013 (winners get one million dollars in seed capital).

Aspire has since established operations in Ghana and the US. The company unveiled an automated facility in Austin, Texas last year.

“We basically mapped out the entire journey of a cricket from hatch to batch and looked at every opportunity to collect data and apply automation,” Ashour told us last year​.

Ashour told Forbes​ that his team had always had their eyes on Exo, which he considers one of the most successful, if not the ​most successful brand in the edible insect space. The company was founded by Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis. Exo initially opted for clean, simple packaging with barely a mention of crickets to help legitimize the idea of cricket protein as safe, healthy and a normal food source with American consumers​.  

With growing consumer and media awareness, and the entrance of other companies into the space, Exo rebranded last year to more heavily featuring crickets in its branding, packaging and marketing. Sewitz and Lewis will assist with the transition following the acquisition, and then leave the company to pursue other opportunities.

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